University of California, Santa Barbara Dean of Social Sciences Melvin Oliver recently confirmed that the Exercise and Sports Science Dept. will continue offering classes through the upcoming 2011-12 academic year.
The department allotted the program roughly half of its budget this year to continue offering classes on health, wellness and sports management. The minor is still only available to undergraduates who have completed the required coursework by the end of Spring Quarter.
According to ESS Director Jon Spaventa, the decision is partially attributable to a surge in campus support for the classes.
“There was uncertainty to whether there would be classes offered and how funds were going to trickle down to the departments; however, the dean worked to allow it to continue,” Spaventa said. “We’re very appreciative of the student support and the dean for making this decision possible.”
Additionally, the department is still offering a number of courses that were previously part of the now-defunct minor for elective credit.
Although the half-unit sports and exercise classes will remain unaffected, Spaventa said the variety of available upper-division lecture courses will not be as comprehensive as previous years.
“The program has been reduced by 55 percent, but we’ve narrowed it down to a core group of classes that will focus on health and wellness and sports management,” Spaventa said. “We hope that these classes will still be attractive to students.”
Fourth-year public policy major Adam Goldman, who spearheaded the student campaign to save ESS, said undergraduate demonstrations — including protests, a Facebook group and a letter to the campus administration — influenced the department’s restoration.
“I’d like to think a lot of the pressure we put on the administration made a big difference,” Goldman said. “We really wanted them to know that we were willing to bring our outrage to their door and that there is still a lot of student interest in the classes.”
Athletic Coaching Adviser Al Ferrer said he hopes the department will survive long enough to return to its previous status once the economy recovers.
The ESS curriculum provides a unique alternative to the university’s available academia, Ferrer said.
“The biggest thing is what it’s done for students in terms of jobs, counseling and mentoring,” Ferrer said. “It brought an academic side to the sports world and brought in big celebrity speakers. It was opportunity for students that cannot be found anywhere else on campus.”
According to Goldman, prior to the recent budget cuts, the department’s previous dean considered expanding the program to incorporate a major.
“Because UCSB is a research university, you don’t often get a lot of the practical experience you get in ESS courses in other departments,” Goldman said. “It’s great for students looking into careers in that arena, and the material brings a great balance to the curriculum as a whole.”