About a week before fall break, junior Tiffany Jenkins found out that her major, physical education, was being closed. 

“I was bummed. It’s a really good department and I know that the professors have worked really hard to get it to where it’s at,” Jenkins said.

Dr. Tracey Tedder, dean of education, said that the state of Florida has been changing its requirements for licensure programs, which determine whether or not a person can be certified as a teacher. Physical education has been undergoing several changes.

“Obviously that’s impacted the major across the board at colleges all over Florida,” Tedder said. “So, as a result of making the decision, we felt really good, that because the state of Florida allows students who want to still become teachers of physical education, they can still come to Florida Southern, and they can still major in one of our other majors, like human movement and performance, which is similar to P.E. It just doesn’t have the licensure requirement embedded in it.”

After a student has majored in human movement and performance, he or she can get his or her certification through the state.

“They can go through alternative certification through the state of Florida where they take their testing,” Tedder said.

“They can still earn a professional teaching license,” Tedder said. “So, all in all, it won’t impact the students who are currently physical education majors here. Fortunately, they’ll be able to go on, take their coursework, earn eligibility for a professional teaching certificate in Florida.”

Students who are already in the major have been offered a teach-out plan, where all their classes are laid out for them to help complete their major, much like students currently in the closing sociology major.

Jenkins still has about three classes left to complete in her major.

“They’re guaranteeing our graduation on time, so, we do have a plan,” Jenkins said.

Some teachers from the major have left, like Dr. John Hatten, former associate professor of physical education, who accepted a position at a different school.

Kathleen Benn, associate professor of physical education, is retiring at the end of the spring semester.

However, there will still be plenty of teachers left for those who are leaving.

“We have several of the coaches who have taught many of the classes with us for several years, still teaching the same courses that they’ve been teaching,” Tedder said. “Mrs. Benn is still teaching her courses, and we’ll evaluate that as the years come, next year, after she leaves, what we need to do to make sure we have the best professors for those students.”

Jenkins said that her parents, when she told them the major was ending, were “surprised.”

“They had no idea that it was coming and, really, their only concern, and personally my concern, is the quality of teaching that we’ll have to finish it out,” Jenkins said.

Tedder said that the quality of the program will not be compromised for the remaining students.

“We have some fabulous, high quality, part-time faculty that do just a wonderful job,” Tedder said.

The major will not be officially closing soon, even though no new majors will be accepted next year. For all of the current students and the freshmen who came in this year, of which there are around two, they will still be able to graduate.

“It will be several years from now, because we have students who were incoming freshmen this year, so we will make sure that the program remains in place until every one of our students has taken the necessary coursework,” Tedder said.


Photo by Leah Schwarting