School of Humanities to make several organizational changes this summer

Three major changes will take place in the School of Humanities July 1: The Department of Kinesiology will move to the Wiess School of Natural Sciences and the Sport Management Program will become a new department in the School of Social Sciences; the Department of Hispanic Studies will expand to become the Department of Spanish and Portuguese; and the Chao Center for Asian Studies will move from the Office of the Provost to the School of Humanities. All offices will remain in their current locations.

These organizational changes will “give the departments an academic home that is more coherent with what they are doing,” said Dean of Humanities Nicolas Shumway.

Daniel Carson, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, and Lyn Ragsdale, dean of the School of Social Sciences, said the disciplines housed in the Department of Kinesiology have evolved considerably since its conception, and a recent external review of the department and its programs recommended that the interests of its faculty and students would be best served by academic realignment.

“The realignment will preserve all of these great programs and majors and place them in schools and settings where they can better integrate with disciplines with overlapping interests,” Carson said. “Having the Department of Kinesiology as part of the School of Natural Sciences will enhance our offerings for students interested in human anatomy and physiology, which are currently not part of the school’s curriculum.”

Carson noted that the programs in Sports Medicine and Health Sciences are well-suited for the School of Natural Sciences because of the school’s growing interests and contributions in human health and increasing involvement as a member of the Texas Medical Center.

Ragsdale said Social Sciences is pleased to have Sport Management join the school.

“Sport Management will make an excellent addition to the majors currently offered in the School of Social Sciences,” she said. “We look forward to having students become more aware of the opportunities the program provides.”

Although Kinesiology and Sport Management will have different homes on campus, none of the degree programs will be altered or removed, according to Kenton Whitmire, associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Natural Sciences. Nick Iammarino, professor and current chair of the Department of Kinesiology, will continue to head the department. Clark Haptonstall, professor in the practice of sport management, will become chair of the Department of Sport Management.

Both Iammarino and Haptonstall said that their students and faculty are excited about their respective moves to Natural Sciences and Social Sciences.

“We in Kinesiology are very excited about our new home in Natural Sciences as we believe that this will better align our field and research interests with those of our other colleagues in Natural Sciences,” Iammarino said. “While the focus of our disciplines is slightly different as they pertain to Sport Medicine and Health Sciences, we take a macro approach to the human body. We believe that this will complement the other disciplines in Natural Sciences.”

“Becoming our own department will give the Sport Management major increased visibility both on and off of campus,” Haptonstall said. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in the major during the past 10 years, and this move to Social Sciences will help us better prepare our students and reach our goals. The support we’ve received already from Dean Ragsdale and her staff has been great.”

The new title for the Department of Hispanic Studies, headed by interim department chair Beatriz González-Stephan, the Lee Hage Jamail Chair of Latin American Literature, coincides with the appointment of Leonora Paola as an assistant professor of Brazilian language and culture, also effective July 1. This new appointment allows for the School of Humanities to provide advanced, four-year language instruction in Portuguese. The hiring of Paola is the first step in the development of a major that will involve Portuguese language and Brazilian studies, Shumway said.

“The change in title reflects that the university has committed resources and is growing in a very important area,” Shumway said. “This is part of our attempt to increase the importance of Brazil and the presence of Brazil on this campus.”

Ongoing Rice and School of Humanities outreach efforts in Brazil include:

— a dual-degree history doctoral program with the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) in Campinas, Brazil.

— a collaboration with the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianopolis to remediate urban water that has been used to produce hydrocarbons for energy use.

— a  memorandum of understanding with the University of  São Paulo to facilitate an exchange-student program and research collaborations.

— an agreement with Brazil’s National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) that enables postdocs and Ph.D. and undergraduate visiting students from Brazil to study at Rice annually with financial support from the council.

The move of the Chao Center for Asian Studies from the Provost’s Office into the School of Humanities was spurred by a realization of where its “center of gravity” lies, Shumway said.

“We did an inventory and found that the majority of students, faculty, majors and courses offered in Asian studies came from the humanities,” he said.

The Chao Center is directed by Tani Barlow, the T.T. and W.F. Chao Professor of History at Rice, who noted that the Chao Center has introduced a research institute center model to the Rice campus. “Like the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, the Humanities Research Center, the newly formed Center for Critical and Cultural Theory and other centers, we are delighted to be part of the School of Humanities,” Barlow said.

The center will continue to offer courses in disciplines that are not associated with the humanities and serve the entire university, Shumway emphasized.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.