New fitness program announced

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Photo Provided by Julie Downing

Michelle Greer
The Broadside

Exercise and Sports Science deals with Physical Fitness. The classes offered in this major range from science classes that study the human body—the muscular system, and how it works while performing fitness activities—to practice classes where students measure heart rate or fitness levels.

Julie Downing, Chair of the Health and Human Performance Department at Central Oregon Community College as well as Exercise
Physiology Lab Director, earned her doctorate in Human Performance at OSUCorvallis. Students in her classes had been clamoring for a Bachelor program in sports science for years so Downing focused on bringing that program to Bend.

“We serve students from different walks of life, some have families and some have jobs. They can’t move to Corvallis to get there four- year degree. They needed the option here,” Downing said.

Downing described the steps she took to bring this program from Corvallis to the Cascades campus. She spoke with Tony Wilcox, Co-Director of the School of Biological and Population Health Sciences at Corvallis, to try to get the ball rolling. In the Summer of 2010, an annual survey of the Cascades revealed that one of the top two programs that the community wanted to see at OSU-Cascades was a BA in the fitness field.

Downing took this interest to Wilcox and began making the changes needed to bring the already established EXSS program at Corvallis to Cascades. Many of the classes already offered at COCC would work inside the new major, but a few of the classes had to be changed from a three credit course to a four credit.

“There was a lot of paperwork involved and we had to make sure the classes were the same as the ones being offered at Corvallis. [We] had to change the content of some of the classes to get them approved by OSU,” said Downing.

As part of the process, the hiring of two more full time professors has been approved. The first professor to join the program is Christine Pollard, the new faculty head for the EXSS program at OSUCascades. Pollard was born in Eugene and has earned her  Master’s in physical therapy from Pacific University. She went on to earn her PhD in Biomechanics, a sub-discipline of EXSS, at the University of Massachusetts and Amherst.

“There calling it a slow roll out, just one new core class is being offered so far,” Pollard explained.

After teaching in Southern California for the last few years, she welcomed the chance to come back home to Oregon. This semester she is teaching the first upper division class being offered for the new program, EXSS 312 Sociocultural Dimensions of Physical Activity.

Many of the students in Pollard’s class have been at COCC for a few years and were waiting for this four year program to further their education.

Josh Williams is one of those students. Being a father to a five-year-old boy meant that Williams couldn’t take the courses that used to be offered only in Corvallis.

“I was really excited to see this program at OSU. I’ve been at COCC taking the fitness classes but now I can get my degree. I’m still figuring out what I want to do, but I know I want to work in the fitness field,” Williams said.

He also explained that Pollards class is a great overview of how this field fits into the structure of society and that he thinks it’s a
great introduction to the new program.

Both Pollard and Downing have also been interviewed by Good Morning Central Oregon, in order to spread the word about the burgeoning EXSS program. The segment will be aired on Oct. 21st at 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 11 a.m., and 4:30 p.m..

Downing said, “Spreading the word about the new program is essential. We want all the students in the Cascades area to know that they have this option.”

You can contact Michelle Greer at magreer@cocc.edu

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