Physical Education Department Names

Students participated in several forms of recreation and physical activity even in the early days of the Iowa State Normal School. However, the first time that physical education, or its precursors, appears in an instructional department name was in 1892, with the Elocution and Physical Culture Department. The curious combination of Elocution and Physical Culture may well have been due to faculty member Margaret Baker, whose had training in both of these areas. The Elocution and Physical Culture Department persisted until 1896, when Elocution was integrated back into English and the Physical Culture Department was established on its own. In 1902 the name changed to the Physical Training Department and in 1909 to the familiar Physical Education Department.

The Physical Education Department persisted until the time of World War I, when it went through a an unusual phase. Beginning in 1917 and continuing through at least 1919, there were few men students on campus. The limited number of men who were on campus took military drill instead of physical education. During that period the college catalogues listed a head of a Physical Education for Women Department. But in other parts of those same catalogues, in a listing of authorized instructional departments, the department is listed as the Physical Education Department. Perhaps the revised nomenclature simply recognized the realities of the wartime situation, even though the name was not officially changed.

In 1920 the name reverted to the Physical Education Department. This name persisted until 1929, when the department was split into the Physical Education for Men Department and the Physical Department for Women Department. These two names were stable for fifty years. In 1979 the departments combined to form the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. In 1990 the name was modified to the School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services.

The departments and schools again reorganized, first as the School of Kinesiology, Allied Health and Human Services from 2016 to 2018, then as the Department of Health, Recreation and Community Services and the Department of Kinesiology in 2018, all in the College of Education.

Please note that this information is not always regularly updated, may contain inaccuracies,  and may not be comprehensive. Patrons are encouraged to consult sources directly, and more detailed information about colleges, departments, programs, and other information may be found in the course catalogs. Patrons are always welcome to visit SC&UA or contact SC&UA staff at about consulting sources directly.


Elocution and Physical Culture

Physical Culture

Physical Training

Physical Education

Physical Education for Men
Physical Education for Women

School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

School of Kinesiology, Allied Health and Human Services

Health, Recreation and Community Services



Information up until 2017 compiled by SC&UA faculty and staff prior to 2017. Updated by student assistant Noel Keil, June and July 2023.