When the precursor to the School of Public Health-Bloomington began in 1946 as one of the first Schools of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation in the world, it comprised just four areas of study, including separate departments of physical education for men and women. In 1977, the two departments were combined. Twelve years later, this department was renamed the Department of Kinesiology. By 2001, it was ranked number one in the Big Ten.
This is just one example of how evolution and excellence are woven into the fabric of our school. It's also an example of how forward-thinking adaptation has been a hallmark of the school's academic offerings.
Those traditions go back to before the turn of the last century. The first health-related classes were offered in the basement of present-day Wylie Hall. Other classes were conducted at the nearby Student Building, which, for many years housed the Department of Physical Education for Women (constructed in 1906). The Department of Physical Education for Men was housed in the Men’s Gymnasium (completed in 1917), and various classes and program offerings occurred at the original Memorial Stadium (now the site of IU’s arboretum) and the Fieldhouse (now known as the Wildermuth Intramural Center). These latter facilities were both added in the late 1920’s.
As the need for health research and education grew, it was clear a new school was needed to coordinate programs, courses, and activities. The precursor to the School of Public Health, the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, began with just four areas of study: separate departments of physical education for women and men; a Department of Health and Safety; and a Department of Recreation. In 1946-47, there were 33 full-time faculty members, 12 part-time faculty members, and 14 graduate students.
From its very beginning in 1946, the mission of the curriculum has focused on the improvement and promotion of healthy, active lifestyles through the outstanding work of faculty representing a broad diversity of programs areas.
In the early stages of the school’s development, departmental offices were housed in the Mottier House, near present-day Ballantine Hall. The departmental offices later moved to Alpha Hall along East Third Street. In 1961, students and faculty of all departments moved into the new HPER building attached to the Men’s Gymnasium and the Wildermuth Intramural Center, which currently serves as the home for the majority of the SPH offices and labs.
Beginning in 2009, the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation began the process of transforming to the School of Public Health, reflecting an emphasis on innovative research and quality instruction about the complex facets of wellness and quality of life. In March 2010, the Department of Environmental Health was formed, while September 2011 saw the premiere of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
Today, as the School of Public Health-Bloomington, we continued to grow and evolve. With the recent transition of the school to a school of public health, we build upon our traditions while serving the state with a much needed research, curricula, and community engagement.