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College of Health Sciences

Department History

The primary sources of information for this historical research were from undergraduate catalogs and the Chacahoula yearbook. There have been physical education courses taught at the university since the first year it opened in 1931 as a junior college. Physical education was required for both men and women during both years while attending the LSU Northeast Center. The first-year physical education course for men consisted of volleyball, basketball, baseball, tennis, gymnastics and other athletic sports, while for women were the same except marching tactics was also included. The second-year physical education course for men and women focused on a continuation in more advanced work in physical education. In 1934-35 a curriculum for athletic coaching consisting of physical education classes was first offered but students were required to have another academic subject. The athletic coaching courses included fundamentals of basketball, fundamentals of football, fundamentals and theory of track, and fundamentals and theory of baseball. In 1937-38 the first curriculum for teachers of health and physical education was offered but students were required to have another academic subject.  During the 1940’s there were revisions and expanding of the department curricular. Course descriptions were provided in more detail and the courses were better organized.

The first faculty member to teach physical education (for women) was Doris Nancy Turner in 1931-32 and she also taught Geography. The following academic year Dorothy Mengis Grant was the Director of Physical Education for Women, PE, the previous year (1931-32) she had taught Art. The first man to teach physical education was J Paul Kemerer. He was also the Athletic Director, taught Economics and Political Science. The first notable faculty member was James L. Malone, (1934-35) who taught physical education, coached several different sports and was athletic director for a number of years. His primary coaching responsibilities were as head football coach and his lengthy tenure in that position is why the current ULM football stadium bears his name.

The department was first formed in 1937 and was titled Health and Physical Education until 1991 when the department name was changed to Health and Human Performance and the changed again in 2003 to the Department of Kinesiology.

The first department head was Alva Stephenson Huffman and he was first identified as the chair in 1937 and served in that capacity until he was on military leave from December 1941 until August 1943, after which we returned as a faculty member and resumed his duties. It can be assumed he also resumed his roll as chair of the department in 1943. The undergraduate Bulletin identifies him as chairman in 1959 and there is indication that he did not serve in that capacity upon his return from military service.

Along with Alva S Huffman was Ada Bess Hart, who was an Advisor, taught PE for Women, and was also the Dean of Women for the college were the true pioneers of the department. These two faculty members played a significant roll implementing innovate teaching ideas into teaching physical classes and just as importantly promoting life-long activity through participation in intramurals. They recognized a lack of interest students displayed in physical education primarily being the perception that the courses were dull and primarily consisted of routine exercises. Therefore, Huffman and Hart taught students the real meaning of physical education is to give the student a knowledge of recreational activities in which can be participated in after school days are long gone and they are threatened by obesity. Numerous activities were introduced, teams representing each sport participated in intramural schedules, and Huffman and Hart recognized the competitive spirit and increase in enthusiasm of students. Throughout the lengthy careers both Huffman and Hart continued to advocate the importance of physical education and promote healthy living through participating in physical activity.

During the 1930’s YMCA and YWCA were very popular, and students were very active in both organizations on campus. Additionally, participation in intramural activities was encouraged by department faculty and very popular with students. The first noted Physical Education club was in 1941 (see picture) and at the time men were the only members. There are also pictures of the physical education club in the Chacahoula from 1947 to 1950 and again in 1958-1959. The first-time women appeared in a picture of the PE club was in early 1960’s.

Around 1953-54 and for several years thereafter, health & physical education was aligned with the Department of Teacher Education. There were significant additions to the HPE curriculum during the 1950’s with many activity and lecture classes added to the degree requirements. Also starting 1955, there were two supervisors of student teaching for the department.

Department faculty stayed the same during the late 1930’s and through 1940’s and consisted of the same three faculty of Huffman, Hart and Malone. However, during the 1950’s as more athletic coaches were hired, the coaches were also assigned teaching duties in the department. In 1951 Arnold Roy Kilpatrick was hired and an assistant professor, track & basketball coach and, assumed the duties of Athletic Director.

Around 1962-63 the department offered its first graduate degree, and it was an MS in Education focusing on health and physical education. Then, several years later the degree became a Master’s in Education.

Below are the Kinesiology program name changes since becoming a department in 1937.

Department Names

Names Year(s)
Health & Physical Education  1937 – 1991
Health & Human Performance

1991 – 2003

Kinesiology   2003-Present


Former Kinesiology Department Heads

Name Year(s)
Alva Stephenson Huffman 1937-1941 & 1943-1971*
James L Malone 1941-1943
Barry L. Johnson 1971-1974
Earl D. Speights 1974-1979
Billy Daniel 1979-1999
Luke Thomas 1999-2003
Wilson Campbell 2003-2009
Mark Doherty 2009-2010
Lisa Colvin 2010-2011
Ken Alford 2011-2017
Matt Lovett 2017-2022
Joshua Gann 2023-Present

*military leave dec 41 till aug 43