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Genesis and Evolution of Physical Education at SUNY Cortland

by Jerry Casciani


This paper begins with a very abbreviated description of the history of American Physical Education in order to promote an understanding of the developmental parallels of national influences on physical education at SUNY Cortland. It is also important to note that, at least at the New York State level, influences were reciprocal as Cortland physical education graduates made their impact as teachers throughout New York State public schools.

While the author of this paper is Jerry Casciani, Associate Professor and Chair Emeritus of The State University of New York, College at Cortland, the term, “The Chair”, will be used most often in this document in lieu of Jerry Casciani. In addition, short anecdotes are inserted in an effort to enhance meaning and promote interest.

Most of the sequence of events and their dates of occurrence were obtained from discussions with current as well as retired faculty, searching Physical Education Department files and The Chair’s personal files. In addition, information was obtained from the cited references.

Part I American Physical Education

physical education teacher instructing young students

Early founders of physical education were physicians and scientists who established programs in private schools and colleges in New England including Harvard, Amherst and Brown. The Round Hill School in Northampton established the first designated gymnasium and employed Charles Beck in 1825, a German immigrant, as the first teacher of physical education.

In 1853, Boston became the first city to require daily physical exercise for school students. The curricula in schools included calisthenics, Danish Gymnastics, German Gymnastics and physical performance measurements (Van Dalen, D.B. & Bennett, B.L., 1971). Indian Club training, the use of large bowling-pin-like clubs in a variety of movements, was also popular. This form of exercise originated in Persia for military training.

The Chair owns a few Indian Clubs as antiques to remember that he used Indian Clubs in a “Tactics and Calisthenics” course as an undergraduate student at Springfield College.

While remnants of these emphases remained, the English sports model eventually prevailed, the goals of which were purported to be fitness, social development and health. Current emphases in physical education programs include outdoor activities and recreational sports to promote active life-styles, adventure activities for personal and social development, outdoor pursuits for environmental appreciation and fitness activities for mental as well as physical health.

In sum, the mission of physical education is to promote active lifestyles and wellness through an eclectic of activities.

In the opinion of The Chair, this purpose would be better served by a return to a more holistic approach between physical education and the fields of health, recreation and nutrition supported by relevant sciences.

After graduation from a holistic program at Springfield College in1959, The Chair was granted certification to teach health and general science as well as physical education in Pennsylvania.

Finding an Identity

Somewhat self-inflicted, the profession of physical education has had a protracted, somewhat demeaning and incorrect, public image. In an effort to improve professional credibility, some national leaders sought for a new descriptive name for the profession. Human Movement Studies and Kinesiology were offered but never accepted. Opponents were fearful of losing the profession’s historical identity and argued that improving the profession’s image required changing what physical education represented, not the selection of a new name.

Other attempts to gain academic acceptance included the perceptual-motor movement in the 1970s, which theorized that improvements in perceptual- motor tasks were linked to improvements in academic skills. While this theory was supported through correlational research, experimental research did not reveal direct causal effects.

Academic Evolution

In the 1980s and 1990s, many physical education scholars moved toward the social sciences, pedagogy and the study of sport. While studies of kinesiology, biomechanics and exercise physiology were retained, new emphases in motor learning, motor development, sociology of sport and sport psychology emerged in teacher education programs. In addition, skill development for future teachers was de-emphasized as a focus on teaching methods increased.

One of the strengths of the Physical Education program at SUNY Cortland was that, while these new developments were accepted, emphasis on the sciences was retained and, while somewhat diluted, emphasis on the importance of teachers becoming models of skill and fitness was also retained. In fact, in the Fall, 2002 National Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Program Review, the Department was heralded for not changing and for retaining many of its core values.

Eventually, faculty across the country specialized in their advanced degree study which influenced the emergence of separate departments. This was especially true for biomechanics and exercise physiology for which the representative professional organization was no longer the American Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), but the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Society of Biomechanics.

Motor Development was The Chair’s academic sub-discipline and his dissertation, in 1980 at West Virginia University, investigated the relationship between motor development and cognitive development using Jean Piaget’s theory of logical development, rather than IQ and academic measures of cognitive development, and neo-Piagetian motor development theories.

Collegiate and Interscholastic Athletics

The impetus for college and public-school athletics did not arise from educational purposes, but rather, the competitive urges of male college students in the “Ivy League” colleges who, on their own volition, formed football teams, initially competing on intra-college bases, but eventually, inter-college competition. In addition to students, team participants also included outsiders as well as non-academic college personnel and “games” became violent and even lethal.

Interjection by President Theodore Roosevelt, and the subsequent meeting of thirteen college and university presidents initiated by the chancellor of New York University, culminated in the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States in 1906. This organization became the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 1910. (Van Dalen, D.B. & Bennett, B.L., 1971). Thus, college athletics became institutionalized and controlled by a national organization.

The development of school sports has a top-down history: beginning in colleges and universities, then private schools and then public schools. This movement paralleled with the unofficial national adoption of the English sports model in physical education programs in private and public schools.

The history of physical education reflects an eclectic of programs and purposes founded on broad social, academic and scientific bases.

Part II SUNY Cortland Physical Education

physical education teacher instructing young students

Part II also includes programs which separated from the umbrella of Physical Education because of their growth as separate entities.

Cortland Normal School

Normal Schools, for the purpose of training teachers, emerged in the United States in the 1820s and 1830s. Cortland Normal School opened in 1869. The College was named Cortland State Teachers College in 1941, became part of the State University of New York System in 1948 and in 1961 it was chartered into the New York State University system as a College of Arts and Sciences carrying the name State University of New York, College at Cortland (Ralston, Leonard F. 1991).

Physical Education

The emergence of physical education in the Cortland Normal School followed this sequence:

  • “Physical culture”, consisting of planned daily exercises, began in 1890.
  • Women were the pioneers in teaching physical education at Cortland Normal School and they included, in addition to Bessie Park, the recognized founder of physical education at SUNY Cortland, Anna Norris, who introduced women’s basketball, and Mary Butler, who taught physical culture and coached gymnastics.
  • New York adopted a State Physical Education Law requiring “competent teachers” to direct twenty minutes a day of physical training for pupils over the age of eight in private as well as public schools. In response, Principal DeGroat initiated a program designed to prepare teachers to deliver physical training. Subsequently, he also created an outreach program to deliver physical training to rural schools.
  • Bessie Park, who graduated from the Cortland Normal school in 1901 and joined the faculty in 1915, became a leader in physical education in New York State and directed physical education for women at the Cortland Normal School until her retirement in 1941. (Ralston, Leonard F. 1991)

Bachelor of Science Degree

Bessie Park joined with Principal DeGroat in lobbying for a new program to train physical education teachers which was approved by the Commissioner of Education in March 1922. In 1930, a four-year course of study leading to a diploma was adopted. The Board of Regents authorized Cortland Normal School (which became Cortland State Teachers College in 1941) to grant a bachelor’s degree in the “special program” of physical education in 1940 (Ralston, Leonard F. 1991).

Schools Within the College

After it became a College of Arts and Sciences in 1961, the College was organized into the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Professional Studies which included the departments of Physical Education, Education, Speech and Hearing, Health and Recreation.

In July of 2003, the Department of Education became the School of Education and, since then, SUNY Cortland has had three Schools: Liberal Arts and Sciences, Professional Studies and Education.

First Reorganization (July, 1983)

Motivated by a concern for curricular congruence, the Men’s Physical Education Department and Women’s Physical Education Department created a Joint Curriculum Committee in the Fall of 1981. This joint venture still left SUNY Cortland behind in the national movement to combine gender-segregated physical education programs of teacher education. In 1981, a Task Force to Study Physical Education Models of Reorganization was organized as directed from the administration.

This Task force was composed of the following faculty:

  • From the Education Department: Robert Isaf, who served as Committee Chair.
  • From the Women’s Physical Education Department: Deborah Aitkin and Phyllis McGinley, Chair.
  • From the Men’s Physical Education Department: Thomas Steele, Peter Wachtel, a student, and Robert Weber, Chair.

While the Committee’s report to merge into one Department with a Chair and two Associate Chairs was received by Dean William Dunifon in December of 1981, this study continued in the form of a Transition Council for the Formation of a New Physical Education Department. The work of the Transition Council culminated in an agreement accepted by Provost Charles O. Warren in July, 1983.

Subsequently, Robert Weber was appointed Chair of the combined department. Phyllis McGinley, who had been Chair of the Women’s Department, continued as a professor and directed the student teaching program for both genders. In addition, Patricia Allen was named Associate Chair for Management and Antoinette Tiburzi was named Associate Chair for Curriculum.

Most of the resistance to joining Departments came from male faculty who believed that lesser physical performance criteria would result, and thereby weaken the program.

In contrast with this belief, The chair vividly remembers his first experience leading a “co-ed” outdoor education practicum trip group in the Adirondack high peaks region, during which the women outperformed the men in regard to commitment, endurance and skills.

Second Reorganization (October, 1990)

After Robert Weber retired in the Spring of 1985, Patricia Allen served as Interim Chair until, as a result of a national search, Don Kirkendall, from Purdue University, was appointed in the Fall of 1986.

In response to Chair Kirkendall’s request of May 1990 to have the Physical Education Department report directly to the Provost rather than the Dean of the School of Education, the Department was directed to form a Reorganization Task Force which reported to Provost Pollock and Dean Jane Snell. It is important to note that this was motivated by Department complexity which became cumbersome to manage because it consisted of over one thousand students and over forty faculty in both tenure-track and non-tenure-track positions.

The following Physical Education Department faculty were selected by Dean Snell to serve on the Reorganization Task Force: Dolores Bogard, Diane Craft, Lorraine Khouri, Charles Ash, Paul Maguire and Jerry Casciani.

Three proposal plans were presented to Department faculty and the result was a three-unit plan, each unit to have a “facilitator”. Based upon academic sub-disciplines and teaching roles, these units were proposed: Exercise Science, Sport Studies and Pedagogy.

During the proposal process, Don Kirkendall resigned as Chair, and an appointment process for an “in-house” Chair was initiated. Candidates for the open Chair position included Lorraine Khouri, Charles Ash and Jerry Casciani. Candidates were interviewed by the Department and a secret- ballot vote of preference was sent to Dean Snell. As a result, Jerry Casciani was appointed Chair by President Clark.

Jerry Casciani, who had just completed his seventh season as Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach, was “untested” in regard to academic leadership and, even though he had also been serving as an associate professor, he was appointed Chair by the administration with some concern.

After a nomination process, in consultation with Dean Snell, The Chair selected these unit facilitators: Charles Ash for Exercise Science with twelve faculty members, Dolores Bogard for Sport Studies with fifteen faculty members and Mike Kniffin for Pedagogy with fifteen faculty members.

Third Reorganization (August 2000)

Recognition of diverse faculty roles within the Department precipitated the need for discipline-specific academic and management autonomy including clearer scholarly expectations for faculty. Also, relevant personnel policies were needed for coaches. As a result, impetus from Dean Giles Gee, agreed upon by Provost William Sharp and President Judson Taylor in consultation with The Chair, the Physical Education Department was divided into two academic Departments. In a May 2000 memorandum, Provost William Sharp sent an approval from the administration to Dean Helen Giles-Gee for dividing the Physical Education Department into two departments:

  • Physical Education
  • Exercise Science and Sport Studies

In addition, while coaches’ responsibilities for teaching activity courses continued, a separate Athletic Department was formed indicating that Director Lee Roberts would no longer report to the Physical Education Department Chair, but to the Dean of the School of Professional Studies.

Fourth Reorganization (2006)

Viable graduate as well as undergraduate programs in Sport Management had developed under the leadership of Ted Fay, and enrollments in these programs significantly increased. This development, combined with realization that sport management is really a form of management rather than sport studies, led to the pragmatic as well as academic decision for a separate Sport Management Department and this occurred in the Fall of 2006.

In addition, these academic areas were combined into a Kinesiology Department (name changed from Exercise Science) in 2007: the exercise sciences, the study of sport and the study of motor development and motor learning.

As a result, two new departments were formed in the School of Professional Studies: the Kinesiology Department, with John Cottone as Chair, and the Sport Management Department, with Ted Fay as Chair.

Also, due to the recognition that athletics is not an academic endeavor, the reporting structure for the Director of Athletics was changed from the Dean of the School of Professional Studies to the Provost.

As of this writing, the School of Professional Studies, with John Cottone serving as Dean, contains these six departments: Communication Disorders and Sciences with Regina Grantham serving as Chair, Health with Bonni Hodges serving as Chair, Kinesiology with Philip Buckenmeyer serving as Chair, Physical Education with Lynn MacDonald serving as Chair, Recreation , Parks and Leisure Studies with Sharon Todd serving as Chair and Sport Management with Jordan Kobritz serving as Chair.

Part III Curricula and Programs

physical education teacher instructing young students

Curricular Evolution

In 1995, The American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) developed national standards which are reflected in this current goal statement: “The Goal of physical education is to develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity.” In concert, and for the purpose of better reflecting societal needs and the needs of all individuals, the New York State Association of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance produced these standards based on “what a physically educated person should know, do and value”:

  • Standard 1, Personal Health and Fitness – “Students will have the knowledge and skills to establish and maintain
  • physical fitness, participate in physical activity and maintain personal health.”
  • Standard 2, A Safe and Healthy Environment
  • Standard 3, Resource Management
  • In response to these New York State Standards, the Physical Education Department at SUNY Cortland made changes in its activity course program from traditional sports to activity courses which better meet the needs of all skill levels, abilities and interests. New course developments included health- related fitness, sport education, “kidnastics”, lifetime activities, adventure activities and inclusive activities.

    Adapted Physical Education

    “If physical education instruction is to be individualized, then all physical education is adapted physical education.”

    One reason why the Physical Education Program at SUNY Cortland has been held in high regard at the national level and recognized as a leader in New York State, is the quality of its signature program in adapted physical education. Adapted physical education (APE) is about meeting the needs of children, adolescents and adults with disabilities. This program consists of several specialized theory and activity courses including appropriate curricula, effective teaching methods, activity modifications, sport adaptations and both on-campus and outreach field experiences.

    The adapted physical education program at SUNY Cortland program was initiated by Louise Mosely and Suzanne Wills in the 1960’s and strengthened through their initiatives in response to the 1975 Education for all Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) including creating a curricular concentration and a summer camp for children with disabilities in Marathon, NY.

    In 1990, EAHCA was strengthened as The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) which provided for special education and related services.

    Since then, the prominence of this program has been enhanced by Diane Craft, Tim Davis and John Foley who, among several other contributions, established a Sensory Integration Motor Sensory Lab (SIMS Lab) which offers cross-disciplinary service, research and teaching opportunities.

    Other adapted physical education specialists, who left to “carry-on” at other institutions, included Luis Columna (Syracuse University), Georgia Frey (Indiana University), Colleen Lewis (Grand Valley State University), Paul Maguire (University of Alaska, Anchorage) and Terry Rizzo (California State University, San Bernardino).

    Diane Craft and Tim Davis established a working relationship with the Wheelchair Sports Federation and with SUNY Upstate Medical University to serve youth with spina bifida, autism, visual impairments and sensory processing disorders. In 2004, with the purpose of enhancing learning experiences and actual service opportunities for students, Tim Davis established Project LEAPE (Leadership in Adapted Physical Education) which has been influential in the development of many of the Department’s most successful graduates.

    Grant applications, authored by Diane Craft, resulted in two significant awards from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs:

    • Model Competency-Based Master’s Degree Program in Adapted Physical Education, 1988 – 1991 for $176,000
    • Preparing Rural Resource Specialists in adapted Physical Education, 1991 – 1994 for $228,000

    International Programs

    Willi Uschald, Director of International Programs, initiated one of SUNY’s first study-abroad programs in 1964 (Ralston, Leonard F. 1991). Dr. Uschald established study-abroad relationships with several countries including, in the late 1960s, a physical education student exchange with Sporthochschule, the German Sports University in Cologne. Bob Wallace and Sally Wallace, faculty who also coached (Bob – baseball, Sally - softball), travelled annually with SUNY Cortland physical education exchange students to Cologne until the late 1970s when this practice ended.

    Dr. Uschald retired in 1990 and he was succeeded by John Ogden who worked with The Chair in attempts to expand the program. One deterrent to students volunteering was the requirement to successfully complete two courses in German. However, students who took advantage of the opportunity found the experience to be enjoyable and rewarding and, as a bonus, they usually also toured other countries in Europe prior to returning to the United States.

    The Chair visited Sporthochschule with John Ogden in 1992 and found the University’s facilities to be expansive, its curriculum broad and intense, its faculty with specialized expertise and its students self-motivated. The Chair was also impressed with the beauty of the totally planned City of Cologne.

    Other than the Cologne Cathedral, Cologne was completely destroyed during World War II. The Cathedral was badly damaged but long-term restoration, which began after the War, was completed in 1956. The Cologne Cathedral was planned by Medieval builders. Its construction began in 1248, was halted in 1473 and left unfinished until the 19th century when reconstruction resumed and was ultimately completed in 1880 (Wikipedia).

    Relationships with Sporthochschule faculty were rewarding and in 1993, Wolfgang Krause, came to SUNY Cortland as a visiting professor for the academic year. Wolfgang was an expert gymnast and an expert sailor who owned a large sailboat in which he sailed the Mediterranean Sea every summer.

    Colleen Buchanan became the liaison with Sporthochschule and worked with Wolfgang in planning student exchanges.

    In the Spring of 1987, Yan Hai, a Chinese visiting professor, replaced Eric Malmberg during his sabbatical for doctoral degree work at Syracuse University. In the Spring of 1988, Eric Malmberg and his men’s gymnastics team visited China where they met the daughter of a Vice President of Beijing Teachers College of Physical Education (Du Li).

    In the late 1990s, Du Li and three faculty from Beijing Teachers College of Physical Education visited SUNY Cortland. One of the visitors, Ju Ji, became a visiting gymnastics instructor for a semester.

    During their visit, The Chair thoroughly enjoyed his experiences as their self-appointed tour guide. During a trip to Cornell University, the visitors made fun of themselves trying to pronounce “Cornell” and on the way to Syracuse they, at first, wanted to visit the Onondaga Indian Nation Territory, but later, they were afraid to go.

    A detailed plan was made for our faculty to return a visit in the Summer of 1999. The plan included Diane Craft, Mike Kniffin, Eric Malmberg and The Chair. This plan was halted due to the State Department’s warning against travel to China after the accidental May 7th, 1999 bombing by NATO of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. An additional factor was that June 4th was to be the tenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

    The bombing by U.S. Air Force, which was ordered by President Clinton, was accidental due to the CIA’s error in reporting bombing coordinates. The forewarned Embassy was mostly deserted, but three Chinese reporters were killed.

    This scenario evolved into an unsolved mystery as we were subsequently unable to contact the people from Beijing Teachers’ College of Physical Education who were to be our hosts.

    Community Outreach

    Student Teaching

    The Department’s strategy to develop state-wide student teacher centers, each with at least one alumnus as a supervisor, proved to be an effective state-wide public relations strategy as well as an effective strategy to deliver rich student teaching experiences for students.

    Adapted Physical Education

    Laboratory teaching experiences in adapted physical education courses include bringing in children, adolescents and adults into Park Center facilities for one-on-one individualized activities. Also, outreach teaching experiences were developed at the Franzisca Racker Center by Diane Craft and the J. M. McDonald Sports Complex by Tim Davis.

    Project Adventure

    Project Adventure is an adventure-based program consisting of trust, cooperative and perceived-risk activities designed to develop individual confidence, responsibility for others, self-satisfaction and a sense of pride in self and team achievement. In the late 1970s, Sally Wallace and Tom Steele, after visiting the Project Adventure headquarters in Beverly, Massachusetts, brought adventure programming to the Physical Education Department. Their efforts resulted in an Adventure Activities course and plans to create climbing apparatus and a climbing wall in the E305 gymnasium in the Park Center. The gymnasium project was directed by Tom Quinn who had experience in building and inspecting climbing walls and apparatus.

    In addition to serving Cortland students, outside groups were invited in for special programs which were found to be especially motivating for public school students who disliked sports and “regular” physical education activities. Even more striking was the motivating effect of these activities on alienated, or “at-risk” students.

    Eventually, a high ropes course was built at Huntington Memorial Camp including a climbing wall on “the tower”. This facility opened a variety of new learning experiences for outside groups as well as SUNY Cortland students.

    SUNY Cortland alum Tom Quinn, outdoor adventure education and ropes course construction expert, was hired in the Fall of 1983 as a professor (Tom also coached diving) and he made immediate use of his talents in working with Sally Wallace, Tom Steele and Fred Taube, (men’s soccer coach) to renovate the high climbing elements at Camp Huntington. His work, along with the work of many others, was also critical to the renovation of aspects of Camp Huntington after the October 1983 fire.

    Coaching Certification

    The New York State Education Department has a certification requirement for public school coaches, from which only teachers with a physical education degree are exempt. The certification requirements include three courses which must be satisfactorily completed and the Physical Education Department offered them as “night courses” for academic credit for many years. However, due to strained faculty resources, that offering was eliminated in the late 1990s.

    A discussion between The Chair and the Director of Athletics at Cortland City Schools, regarding the inaccessibility of course offerings at other locations, motivated The Chair to create a proposal to offer these courses through an asynchronous all online strategy. The proposal was sanctioned by the New York State Education Department and resulted in a contractual agreement, in November 2008, between SUNY Cortland and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA). These courses are offered at a fee significantly lower than tuition rates to public school coaches across New York State, thereby, providing a public service beneficial to the coaches and the public schools.

    It is relevant to note, that most public schools have at least fourteen different sports, including both genders at three developmental levels each, indicating a need for over forty coaching positions. Even though many coaches coach more than one sport, it is not possible to fill these positions with teachers. Therefore, many, if not most, interscholastic coaches are not public or private school teachers.

    Dance Program

    During the 1970s and early 1980s, in addition to two required courses for teaching majors, the Department offered a dance concentration taught by dance specialists Bess Koval, Ann Czompo and Andor Czompo.

    In the late 1960s, Bess Koval formed a Dance Team which competed annually at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool England until 1989 when Bess retired. Tom Fuchs, current Department member, was a member of the Dance Team during his undergraduate years.

    In the late 1980s a significant New York State budget crisis brought severe budget cuts to the State University of New York and, thereby, also SUNY Cortland. Faculty who were eligible to retire were encouraged to do so and, while faculty on continuing appointment could not be released, designated programs could be cut and faculty who taught only in those programs could be released. One result was that the concentration in dance was eliminated because:

    • It was interpreted to be a specific program because dance courses carried a DNC rather than a PED prefix
    • Dance instructors Bess Koval, Ann Czompo and Andor Czompo, taught only dance and were eligible for retirement.

    Subsequently, two part-time dance instructors were hired and the required dance courses for teachers, Dance Fundamentals and Social Forms of Dance, each with a PED prefix, were continued. A few Years later, the Department selected Collen Buchanan, who owns a degree in dance as well as degrees in physical education, as a full-time instructor.

    General Physical Education Requirement

    In the early 1970s, a two credit-hour physical education requirement, which included basic swimming, existed for all students at SUNY Cortland. The swimming requirement was an ongoing issue because a surprising number of students had no swimming experience. As a result, Florence Brush, exercise physiologist, began courses for non-swimmers and fearful- swimmers (and evening courses for adult fearful swimmers also).

    In the mid-1970s, along with the wave of colleges and universities across the country that eliminated a physical education requirement, Cortland did also. An attractive elective activity program for non-majors was retained until low course enrollments and increasing faculty workloads led to its elimination in the early 1980s. Non-majors were then allowed to register for major courses which were not closed by the enrollment of major students. Special Education majors often enrolled in theory and activity course in adapted physical education.

    Field Studies

    Campus School

    The College Campus Elementary School, which was located in Cornish Hall, offered grades kindergarten through sixth which were open to the public via a lottery enrollment system.

    Parents of campus school students understood that the school utilized experimental curricula and methodologies, that they would be asked permission to allow their children to be subjects in relevant educational research and that the school would be used for the field experiences of future teachers.

    The Campus School served as the site for elementary school field studies experiences for physical education majors under the direction of Harry Bellardini, who served as a member of the College faculty as well as the Campus School physical educator until the Campus School closed in 1983. In addition to guiding teacher preparation students, Harry Bellardini combined with Gary Cashin, also a Campus School physical education teacher, and Lucy Stroble, the Campus School nurse, in the development of a “cutting edge” curriculum, entitled “Super Heart”, which connected relevant health science knowledge with aerobic activities.

    Unfortunately, Super Heart was not continued as a model in schools after the Institute for Experimentation in Teacher Education (Campus School) closed. It was a model that would serve well today as a counter to the current “obesity crisis”.

    In May, 1975 Chancellor Boyer announced a plan to restructure SUNY which included closing all campus schools. Cortland’s response was to emphasize the curricular and methodological experimental purposes of the campus school and, with its name changed to “The Institute for Experimentation in Teacher Education”, along with campus schools at four other SUNY Colleges, the Institute survived for a few more years. (Ralston, Leonard F. 1991)

    When the Institute closed in 1983, the Department connected with local elementary schools, and in conjunction with the Field Studies Office, developed an elementary school field experience program.

    One Hundred Hours

    In 1999, the Department had to respond to the New York State Education Department’s new requirement for one-hundred hours of field experiences prior to student teaching. This meant that the Department had to plan for a significant increase beyond the local elementary school experience and adapted physical education lab experiences. In response, the Department, in consultation with Linda Foster, Director of Field Experiences, created a ten-day all-day field experience requirement which students could fulfill in a district close to their home, including the district from which they graduated.

    This requirement was, and still is, met either in January, after students meet prerequisites in the Fall semester, or in May/ June, after students meet prerequisites in the Spring semester.

    Each individual field experience placement is planned by Linda Foster with each student. Students must complete a series of assignments and are required to complete a portfolio with experience analyses and reflections. Upon returning the next semester, students present their portfolio and discuss their experiences in an individual interview with two faculty. The purpose of the interview is to give students an opportunity to express their views and feelings about their experience. It has also proven to be a method whereby faculty learn about the quality of school programs.

    Student Teaching

    In the mid-1980s, based on feedback from the public schools which hosted student teachers and the student teaching supervisors, the Department moved from a one-quarter requirement to a full semester requirement. Students were, and still are, placed at both elementary and secondary levels. Consistent with the current New York State Education Department requirement, students have at least one of their placements in a “high need” district.

    For geographic convenience, the Department attempts to provide students with at least one preference site. Students are not placed in the district from which they graduated. The Department employs part-time faculty-supervisors who are retired alums who live in various locations throughout New York State.

    These alums form a dedicated team of teaching artists who work with the Department and the Field Studies Office. The Chair always referred to the supervisors, at the annual Department Student Teaching Conference, as “model teaching artists” because teaching, although it utilizes science, is, at its best, a creative art and the Department supervisors represent the best in this artistry.

    Student Teaching Seminar

    In order to prepare students for student teaching and enhance the management of placements, the Department developed a student teaching seminar, which eventually became a credit-bearing course for accountability purposes. Under the direction of JoEllen Bailey, this course expanded to include the understanding of Initial and Professional certification requirements in NY State, a review of graduation requirements, presentations of graduate degree options and requirements and the process of developing a professional portfolio.


    Through the leadership of Mike Kniffin, JoEllen Baily and Kath Howarth, in cooperation with the Field Studies Office, two field experience conferences were developed by the Department which are still currently held:

  • Each semester a conference is held for local elementary school physical education teachers who will be hosting field experience students. This conference creates the opportunity for the Department to clarify expectations and gives the elementary school teachers the opportunity to provide feedback and to meet with the students who will be visiting their program.
  • At the end of each Spring semester, student teaching supervisors attend an annual on-campus student teaching conference during which their views and concerns are expressed as well as work toward congruence.


In the Fall of 2004, through the initiative of Marley Barduhn, Associate Dean of the School of Education, The Department was introduced to Colin Balfour, from the University of the Sunshine Coast, and the Department, led in this endeavor by JoEllen Bailey, worked with Colin to create student teaching options in the Sunshine Coast of Queensland area. Since then, JoEllen has visited the University of the Sunshine Coast twice and 57 students have taken advantage of this option, two of whom accepted position offerings in Australia because of their demonstrated teaching competence. The program is now a result of a partnership with Education Queensland, through Colin Balfour, and students are placed in public schools in the cities of Mooloolaba and Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.

Bachelor of Science in Physical Education

The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physical Education degree, a non-teacher-certification degree (as opposed to the Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) in Physical Education), was added to meet the needs of students who realized, often well into their program, that teaching was not “for them”. This degree was a factor influencing the formation of the Exercise Science and Sport Studies Department.

Sport Management

Early Development

The Sport Management concentration in the Physical Education Department was initiated by Suzanne Wingate in the late 1980s.

When Suzanne Wingate passed away in 1995, Dolores Bogard continued as its leader. Dee Bogard produced a Sport Management Major proposal which was sent to SUNY Central and returned with feedback for changes. The Chair worked with Dee on a resubmission proposal which was accepted in 1998.

Credibility as a Major

After the retirement of Dolores Bogard in 1998, a position search was granted to find a sport management expert to lead and develop the new Sport Management major, which then included less than thirty students. The Chair attended the national convention of the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) to recruit such a person where he met Ted Fay and encouraged him to apply. The professional and personal timing was inconvenient for Ted at the time and another person was hired who left after one year. The Chair then actively recruited Ted Fay who was employed in the Fall of 1999.

Ted immediately immersed himself in curriculum development which, with the support of Associate Dean Marley Barduhn and Dean Helen Giles Gee, brought the Cortland program up to NASSM standards. Under Ted’s direction, the major soon gained momentum through leading-edge technology and national and international developments as demonstrated by the following:

  • The major vastly expanded in enrollment as it became an attraction for prospective students.
  • Student enrollment proved the need for new faculty which was gradually supported by the administration.
  • Through a Pinnacle Grant, the dedicated Sport Technology Learning Center was developed and equipped in the Spring of 2003.
  • Dartfish Technology was adopted in 2004.
  • The program initiated the creation of the U.S. Women’s Team Handball Training Center which opened at SUNY Cortland in the Spring of 2005.

Separate Department

These developments warranted separate department status and, through the support of Dean Roy Olsson, Sport Management became its own Department, with Ted Fay as Chair, in January 2006.

New Leadership

In 2012, the College appointed Jordan Kobritz as Department Chair. Jordan, a Cornell Law School graduate, had experience establishing online academic programs and had previously owned two minor league baseball teams: (1) Main Guides in the AAA International League and (2) Daytona Cubs in the Class Florida League.

Faculty and Enrollment

Jordan inherited a department with 350 undergraduate students and 75 graduate students but only ten faculty, only three of whom owned advanced degrees (one PHD and two JD’s). By 2016, Sport Management had 482 undergraduate students, 100 graduate students in three different Masters programs and a faculty of seventeen, including nine with advanced degrees (either PHD, JD or both).


During the 2013-2014 academic year five sport management area concentrations were introduced: media & technology, videography, sales and marketing, international sport management and facility and event management. In 2017, athletic administration was added for students who desire to work in collegiate athletics.

In 2013, the entire online Masters in Sport Management was initiated which, currently, is the only entire online degree program at SUNY Cortland.

Other departments have hybrid programs and one all online Certificate program exists.

Student Development

Students are placed in internships in the various concentration areas. A mock interview room was developed where students participate in mock interviews which are recorded and assessed to prepare them for “real world” interviews. Also, a Sport Management Advisory Board was formed, consisting of sport management industry executives and former students, to assist the Department with programming needs and help students with internship placements and job opportunities.

International Programs and Relationships

In 2016 and 2017, summer study abroad programs were initiated in Greece, Spain/Portugal and Cuba. Another is currently being developed in Germany/Switzerland.

In April, 2016, the Department held an on-campus Symposium on Cuba which included panels of current and former diplomats, academicians, businessmen, businesswomen and baseball historians from the United States and Cuba. This Symposium catalyzed these developments:

  • Several groups of SUNY Cortland faculty visited Cuba.
  • A group, headed by President Erik Bitterbaum and Provost Mark Prus, will be travelling to Cuba in June, 2017.
  • A professor from San Geronimo University in Havana will co-teach a course on the Cortland campus in the Fall of 2017.
  • Collaborative research opportunities between SUNY Cortland and academic institutions in Cuba are being explored.

Athletic Training

The Athletic Training Program was initiated by John Sciera in the 1960s and, through John’s work in course development, it became a concentration in the Physical Education Department and an ongoing service to the SUNY Cortland Intercollegiate Athletics program through teaching faculty as well as student trainers. Because of its popularity, limited enrollment capacity and demanding curriculum, students had to pass a competitive selection process to gain acceptance. John passed away in 1985 and subsequently, through a national search, John Cottone, from Castleton State College, was hired to direct this program.

As public schools in New York State began to recognize the need to hire athletic trainers, SUNY Cortland athletic training graduates began to earn positions throughout the public schools in New York State which led to the opportunity to increase enrollment and the need to hire more faculty specialists. One of the additional athletic training faculty included David Boyland, who subsequently left to become a physical therapist. Also recruited were Sonya Comins and Steven Meyer, both of whom still serve as faculty in this program.

After the third reorganization, Athletic Training was housed in the Exercise Science and Sport Studies Department and, under the leadership of John Cottone, was accepted as a degree major in 1998. Since the fourth reorganization, the Athletic Training major has been housed in the Kinesiology Department.

Part IV Facilities

Park Center Gym

There is a reciprocal causal relationship between the development of programs and the development of facilities. New facilities offer potential for new programs and ideas for program development require planning new facilities.

Physical Education/Athletics Facilities

Park Center

In January 1972, the Physical Education Department and the Recreation Department moved offices and activities from Moffett Center to the newly opened Park Center, named after Bessie Park who is recognized as the founder of physical education at SUNY, Cortland.

Stadium Complex

During the planning of the Stadium Complex, representatives from the SUNY Construction Fund favored one field with a large stadium for “big events”, but the leaders of the College programs which would use the facility favored two fields for multiple purposes and for hosting multiple-team tournaments. After much debate, the plan for two fields, promoted by The Chair, Lee Roberts - Director of Athletics and Julian Wright - Director of Recreational Sports, prevailed.

The “football field” side of the stadium was completed in the Summer of 2002, the first event on which was the NYS Public High School Athletic Association girls’ lacrosse championships followed by the NYS Senior Games. While the stadium dedication was held in September 14, 2002, the “track” side of the Complex was not completed until the Fall of 2003.

Subsequently, Chugger Davis Field remained in use for activity classes and intramural sports.

Professional Studies Building

In the Spring of 2010, renovation of Studio West, with the name changed to Professional Studies Building, was completed and it subsequently housed the departments of Communication Disorders and Sciences, Kinesiology and Sport Management. The Physical Education Department, Athletics and Recreational Sports shared in the assignment of newly available space in the Park Center and the Health Department remained in Moffett.

Critical to this endeavor was the vision and work of Dean Roy Olsson who included all the Department Chairs in the renovation plans through his Dean’s Council.

Fitness Facilities

“Fitness Center”

In 1980, William Tomik, Professor of Physical Education and an exercise physiologist, facilitated the fitness facility movement at SUNY Cortland by actualized his teaching through the establishment of a small fitness room in Cornish Hall which became known as the “Fitness Center”.

Francis Woods Fitness Facility

The “Fitness Center” was the only designated fitness facility for over a decade until, through the volition and work of Julian Wright, with support from The Chair and with administrative approval, the former motor learning laboratory in the Park Center (originally, the fencing room) was renovated and converted into the Francis Woods Fitness Facility. This facility was named posthumously after Francis Woods, former Professor of Physical Education and Director of Athletics.

In 2015, when the Student Life Center opened with its comprehensive fitness facilities and programs, the Francis Woods Facility was placed under the control of the Director of Athletics.

William Tomik Fitness Facility

After the closing of the Campus School in 1983, the School’s gymnasium was converted, into the William Tomik Fitness Facility which opened in September 1992. The project was directed by Julian Wright, Director of Recreational Sports.

As of this writing, William Tomik resides in Millbrook, NY.

Outdoor Education

Camp Pine Knot (1979 – 1982)

William West Durant was an Adirondack developer of camps and transportation routes. As one of his projects, Durant began construction of Camp Pine Knot in 1879, which was located on Raquette Lake. In 1890, Durant sold Camp Pine Knot to Collis P. Huntington, a railroad builder and financier (Gonino, V. 1974).

Camp Huntington (1947)

In the Fall of 1947, soon after his appointment as professor and chair of the newly formed Department of Recreation Education at State Teachers College at Cortland, Dr. Gold Metcalf, via canoe trip, searched for a camp property on the shores of Raquette Lake. He found Camp Pine Knot, one of the “Great Camps of the Adirondacks”, which was then owned by Archer Huntington. The camp had been left unused since 1927, but with a caretaker who lived there with his family.

After a formal request from Harlan Gold Metcalf to use the camp for educational purposes, the Huntington’s granted and released to State Teachers College at Cortland the 201-acre Camp Pine Knot. “The gift was officially accepted in the same year by a special act of the New York State legislature naming the facility Huntington Memorial Camp in honor of Collis P. Huntington.” (Gonino, V. 1974).

Vincent J. Gonino, associate professor of physical education and author of “The Story of Huntington Camp”, was also wrestling coach prior to serving as Director of Athletics.


Dr. Harlan Gold Metcalf was appointed as the first Director of Huntington Memorial Camp in 1948 by President D. V. Smith.

Dr. Metcalf was succeeded by Art Howe, in 1950, who directed the Camp until his death in 1961 (Gonino, V. 1974). Three physical educators succeeded Art Howe:

  • Roland Eckert, Associate Professor, was appointed Acting Director for one year.
  • George Fuge (alum, 1949) was appointed Director in the Fall of 1962.
  • Joe Pierson (Associate Professor and Men’s Track & Field Coach) was appointed in 1985.

George Fuge was a Long Island, NY native, a conservationist, an enthusiastic outdoor educator, an inspirational leader and prolific audience-capturing story-teller. George, who passed away in November, 2009, was also a former ski trooper with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy and Austria during world War II (Knight, F. 2009).


In October 1983, a propane canister explosion sprayed fire across Pine Knot Point. In immediate response, George Fuge, drove a bulldozer through the wooden walkway to cease the spread of the fire to all the Camp Huntington Buildings. While the Dining Hall and related structures were destroyed, George’s heroism saved the Chalet, Library, Infirmary, Metcalf Hall and housing structures. The following Spring and Summer, a replica of the Dining hall was constructed. Among other volunteer groups, Physical Education Department faculty and student work groups assisted in a variety of minor reconstruction and cleanup projects.

Camp Courses

The early camp experiences were offered to both Recreation and Physical Education students. The first experience was a work-camp in 1948 at which George Fuge attended as a student. Campus School programs were also among the first educational programs. Eventually, programs became discipline-specific and Outdoor Education Practicum was developed as a required part of the curriculum for Physical Education majors.

Part V Athletics

Athletic Team Champions


Francis Woods served as Director of Men’s Athletics from 1967 until his untimely death in 1975. Directors who preceded Fran Woods were:

  • Donovan Moffett 1946 – 1952
  • Whitney “Pete” Corey 1952 – 1956
  • Robert Weber 1956 – 1967

Louise Mosely was the first Director of Athletics for Women until her retirement when she was succeeded by Carol Mushier in the late 1970s.

Roger Robinson, also head football coach, succeeded Fran Woods in 1975 until his retirement in 1979. Roger was succeeded by Vince Gonino, wrestling coach, who served from 1979 until 1984 when he moved to Texas. Vince became the first director of a combined men’s and women’s program in 1983 when Carol Mushier retired.

Vince Gonino was succeeded by:

  • Wayne Blann 1984 – 1986
  • Lee Roberts 1986 – 2000
  • Joan Sitterly, Interim 2000 – 2001
  • Bob McBee 2001 – 2002
  • Joan Sitterly 2002 – 2009

Mike Urtz was appointed Director of Athletics after Joan Sitterly retired and is the Director as of this writing.

  • C-Club

    The C-Club Hall of Fame was established in 1960 for the purpose of recognizing “Cortland alumni who excelled as athletes at the College and have since distinguished themselves in their professions and within their communities”. The C-Club Organizational Committee consisted of Dean Whitney Corey (“43), Robert Weber, Chair PED, Nick Pauldine (’54) Alumni Director, and William Tomik (“51).

    The conference room in the Park Center was converted into the C-Club Hall of Fame Room which was dedicated on September 18, 1988.

    Title IX

    Dean Merle Rousey initiated discussions with the Men’s and Women’s departments regarding strategies to meet the guidelines for intercollegiate athletics prescribed by the Title IX Education Amendments Act of 1972. After encountering a variety of conflicting views, Dean Rousey’s recommendation to drop intercollegiate football was supported by the administration, but soon after rescinded, due to the resultant vitriol from alumni.

    Also dropped were men’s junior varsity sports and men’s gymnastics was dropped in 1994 (also due to the fact that there were only a few Division III teams in the nation and a significant number of colleges and universities were planning to drop gymnastics).

    It is notable that the Men’s Gymnastics Team, under Erik Malmberg’s tutelage, was competitive against Division I teams and Cortland gymnast Derrick Cornelius, in 1985, won the Division I National vaulting championship after winning the Division III vaulting championship.

    SUNY Cortland’s ultimate, and gradual, response to Title IX was to add teams for women and, in 1990, the count was ten sports for men and ten sports for women. Cynthia Wetmore was the only head coach of two sports, field-hockey and lacrosse, and even though she was very successful in both, this assignment represented inequality. Dual head coaching assignments no longer exist and SUNY Cortland currently offers thirteen sports for women and ten sports for men.

    Role of Coaches

    When The Chair arrived at SUNY Cortland in 1970, with the rank of Instructor, all coaches were Physical Education faculty on tenure-track. The achievement of tenure required earning a doctoral degree which was not an interest for most who coached.

    This situation precipitated several issues for coaches including voting rights, a different appointment category, reduced teaching loads and different personnel guidelines. In March, 1985, a proposal to establish a Coach/Instructor faculty position was developed by Associate Chairs Antoinette Tiburzi and Patricia Allen with Wayne Blann, Director of Athletics. This proposal was sent to Chair Robert Weber who then forwarded it to Dean Jane Snell, who, in turn, sent the proposal with her comments to Provost Charles Warren.

    Finally, In February, 1988, Chair Don Kirkendall sent a Lecturer/Coach non-tenure-track position proposal, which was an adjusted version of the Instructor/Coach proposal, to Dean Jane Snell. While the non-tenure track Lecturer/Coach position was approved by President Clark on February 22, 1988 and subsequently implemented, many of the aforementioned issues remained unresolved.

    In 1991, the Athletic Programs at the SUNY Universities (Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, and Stony Brook) were elevated from Division III to Division I and their coaches were appointed as Professionals. Subsequently, all coaches in SUNY were given appointments as Professionals, thereby eliminating previous appointment issues.

    Athletic program expansion and the attrition of coaches increased the demand for hiring new coaches. Most of the candidates for coaching positions were not physical educators, but the justification for their hiring as teachers was the fact that their teaching responsibilities were limited to coaching clinic courses and activity courses specific to their sport. As emphasis on team-sport activity courses was being significantly reduced, coaches were required to only teach elective coaching clinic courses.

    It should be noted that a number of coaches remained dedicated to teaching physical education major activity courses and volunteered to do so. Most notable in this regard were Julie Lenhart - women’s volleyball coach, Tom Spanbauer - men’s basketball coach and Gary Babjack - women’s gymnastics coach.

    Part VI Recreational Sports

    students playing recreational soccer

    Intramural Sports

    In 1960 an Intramural Sports program was initiated and directed by Roland Eckert, a professor of Physical Education. After Roland Eckert retired in 1975, Joy Buffan, a physical education Instructor, became the Director of Intramural Sports. After Joy Buffan left for a position at SUNY Oswego, Martin Pomerantz became the first full-time Director of Intramural Sports.

    After Martin Pomerantz resigned in 1990 to become the Director at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, The Chair recognized a College need for program expansion beyond intramural sports and an ability to meet this need was part of the national search job description. As a result, Julian Wright left his Director position at Mississippi State and was hired as Director of Recreational Sports in 1991. This was a “double-dip” hire as Julian’s wife, Jean Wright, who eventually became the Department’s coordinator of advisement, was hired as an Instructor and Women’s Tennis Coach.

    Student Life Center

    Julian Wright brought a vision for comprehensive recreational sports, fitness and wellness programs to be housed in a multi-purpose “campus life center”. This vision motivated Julian to “stay the course” through twenty years of advocating, planning, visiting models at colleges and universities in the Northeast and negotiating with relevant organizations and personnel for a new “campus life center” building.

    A Student Life Center Task Force was appointed by Raymond Franco, Vice President for Student Affairs, in the Spring of 1999. The first proposal was presented to President Judson Taylor in December of 1999 and the project was added to the College Master Plan in the Spring of 2000. Funding for 51.2 million was awarded in April, 2008 as a “strategic initiative for new construction” made possible by State Senator James Seward and State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. Auxiliary Services Corporation contributed 5.2 million to the project.

    Construction, on the former Chugger Davis Field site, began in November, 2012 and the Center opened on February 15, 2015. The Grand Opening ceremony was held on March 13, 2015 with a program of presentations by these dignitaries:

  • Erik J. Bitterbaum, President, SUNY Cortland
  • James L. Seward, State Senator
  • Barbara Lifton, State Assemblywoman
  • Martin Mack, Executive Deputy Attorney General
  • Louise M. Conley, Chair, Cortland College Foundation
  • Gil C. Quiniones, President & CEO, NY Power Authority
  • Julian Wright, Director of Recreational Sports
  • Nicole LaFreniere, Treasurer, Student Government Association

Since its opening, the Student Life Center has won three awards:

  • Outstanding Sports Facility Award from the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association.
  • Education Interior Design Excellence and Collegiate Citation for Physical Education Facilities and Recreation Centers from the American School & University Educational Interiors Showcase.
  • Gold Award in Excellence in Masonry design and Installation from the Central NY Chapter of the American Concrete Institute.

Part VII Faculty

Tim Davis Instructing Physical Education Students


While the role of department chair is by necessity a management role, The Chair viewed it as a leadership role in which the leader recruits talented and committed faculty, and then supports them in their endeavors. The faculty in the Physical Education Department took advantage of this empowerment and became a “team of leaders”.

Team of Leaders

During The Chair’s tenure, as Chair, the “team of leaders” who gave the Department professional balance, included these committed professionals:

  • Accreditation - Kath Howarth, JoEllen Bailey, Joy Hendrick
  • Adapted physical education - Diane Craft, Tim Davis
  • Advisement - Peter Cahill, Jean Wright
  • Community outreach - Dine Craft, Tim Davis
  • Curriculum, Activities - Eric Malmberg, Tom Fuchs, Shirly Cahill, Tom Steele
  • Curriculum, Theory - Joy Hendrick, Mike Kniffin
  • Dance - Colleen Buchanan, Tom Fuchs
  • Exercise Science - Charles Ash
  • Field studies - JoEllen Bailey, Mike Kniffin
  • International programs - JoEllen Bailey, Colleen Buchanan
  • Outdoor Education - Tom Quinn, Bill Williams
  • Pedagogy - Kath Howarth, Mike Kniffin, Eric Malmberg
  • Project Adventure - Tom Steele, Tom Quinn
  • Research - John Foley
  • Sport Studies - Dolores Bogard
  • Student Professional Involvement – Jeff Walkuski

It should be noted that a strength of Department faculty members was their breadth of professional experiences beyond college teaching. As a prime example of this, Bill Williams, a SUNY Cortland physical education graduate and varsity basketball star, taught in public schools, returned to Cortland as an instructor and basketball coach, served part-time at the William George Agency, earned his NY Administrator/Principal Certification, left Cortland to become a public school principal,returned to Cortland while earning his doctoral degree from SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry College at Syracuse University and then served as a professor.

Prior to coming to Cortland as an Instructor, The Chair taught physical education and coached three sports at all public-school levels in Long Island, NY and the York, Pennsylvania area and community colleges in York and Baltimore City.


In the 1970s most professors in the Men’s Department were dedicated to coaching as well as teaching. Fred “Prof” Holloway- soccer, Dave Miller - wrestling, Bob Wallace - baseball and Joe Pierson - track and field were early head coach examples of this dedication. Notable head coach examples of the continuation of this professor/coach attitude into the 1980s and 1990s included Vince Gonino - wrestling, Al Stockholm - basketball (biomechanics), Fred Taube - soccer (anatomical bases of movement), Peter Cahill - swimming, Erik Malmberg - gymnastics and Jerry Casciani - lacrosse.

It should be noted that, while this was prior to the development of NCAA sponsored women’s sports, the professors in the Women’s Department were as committed to developing athletics for women as they were to their academic teaching.Notable in this regard was Antoinette Tiburzi – gymnastics, Sally Wallace - softball, Anna Meyer - soccer and Donna Margine – basketball.

The evolution of intercollegiate athletics for women began as the Division for Girls’ and Women’s Sports of the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). In 1971, the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) was established and this organization, after protracted conflicts with the NCAA over Title IX implementations, was eventually “absorbed” by the NCAA in1982.

Professional Contribution

Department faculty also served on course-specific work- groups, NCATE accreditation work-groups, assessment and congruence work-groups, meeting State and National standards work-groups and standing Department and School curriculum and personnel committees.

Faculty also took participant and leadership roles in professional organizations including the New York State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the National Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities and the American College of Sports Medicine.

And how were faculty motivated to do all this “extra work”? It’s called professionalism, commitment to students and “labor- of-love”!

New York State Educational Framework for Interscholastic Athletics

Because most of the physical education graduates, in addition to teaching, wanted to coach and were expected to coach, the Department maintained a working relationship with the Council of Administrators (COA), the York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) and the New York State Athletic Administrators Association (NYSAAA).

As a logical extension of the standards movement, Erik Malmberg, in the early 1990s, asked questions regarding the educational nature of interscholastic sports. Eric approached COA and NYSAAA leaders and met with the Board of Regents Chancellor who subsequently charged NYSPHSAA and NYSAAA with the task of forming a “position statement” about how interscholastic sports can, and should be, educational. Eric was joined in this endeavor by Tom Lickona, from the Psychology Department at SUNY Cortland, who is a national leader in character education and founder of the Center for the 4th and 5th R’s (Respect & Responsibility). Within one year, the New York State Educational Framework for Interscholastic Athletics was written and it received immediate endorsement by the New York State Department of Education.

The Mission Statement of the NYSPHSAA includes these educational goals of a quality interscholastic athletic program: “The mission of New York state Interscholastic programs is to foster the quest for excellence by creating an educational and competitive educational experience within an atmosphere of sportsmanship. Successful programs developing individual and team potential by promoting high standards of competence, character, civility and citizenship.” (The Framework includes a more thorough discussion of the meaning of these four standards.)


While faculty in the Physical Education Department were consumers of current research, and required the same from students, few research studies were conducted by Department Faculty who embedded their efforts in the quality of their diverse and vast teaching responsibilities and, in several cases, also coaching endeavors. Also, few graduate students in physical education chose the thesis option, as opposed to the comprehensive exam option, because their main goal was to earn a masters’ degree in order to qualify for permanent teaching certification in New York State. The department culture in regard to research during the 1970s and 1980s was also perpetuated by a broad promotion interpretation of “scholarly work”.

The energies of Peter McGinnis, biomechanics, and exercise physiologists Ann Maliszewski and Susan Puhl, proved to be exceptions as they attracted undergraduate students to serve as assistants in their research projects. In the mid -1980s, The Chair received an invitation by Syracuse University to join anI-81 Corridor Graduate Research Consortium culminating in an annual student presentation symposium. In spite of being informed that most students involved in research at Cortland were undergraduate students, the Consortium invited Cortland undergraduate students to join with graduate students from Syracuse University, SUNY Binghamton and Ithaca College.

Subsequently, the first symposium was held in the Park Center at SUNY Cortland. The Chair, after attending all presentations and discussions, came to this surprising realization: while the quality of the Cortland research studies was comparatively equal to that of the other institutions, the quality of the presentations and responses to questions by Cortland students was superior. In the Chair’s opinion, this was due to their presentation experiences in methods courses and teaching experiences in activity courses.

In 2005, John Foley was appointed with the informal understanding that he would serve as a mentor and model of research and that the Department would support his research interests. John’s mentorship has had some positive effects and his personal research agenda has been exemplary and has provided the Department with more balance in this regard.


While the Physical Education Department was diverse in regard to gender, it was not in regard to race. Although the Department made annual efforts to advertise position openings at Historically Black Colleges, strictly adhered to Affirmative Action guidelines, networked and advertised at the state and national annual NYSAHPERD and AAHPERD conferences, successes were limited.

A few successes included Dapeng Chen, a research scholar from China, Maha Ebeid from Egypt and Stephen Yang from The Pennsylvania State University. Also, in cooperation with Ted Fay, Chair of Sport Management, Luis Columna, adapted physical education specialist and researcher, and his wife, Luisa Velez, sport management specialist, were successfully recruited.

Because scholars who represent diversity were, and still are, in high demand, they are attracted to more lucrative positions in more diverse environments. Dapeng Chen went to California State University at Fullerton, Maha Ebeid returned to Egypt and is employed at Alexandria University, Luis Columna was recruited by Syracuse University, Luisa Velez went to West Virginia University and Stephen Yang went to Syracuse University.

Part VIII, Students

fitness course SUNY Cortland played a unique role as a college of access as demonstrated by the fact that, in the 1970s and 1980s, a significant number, if not a majority, of students enrolled at SUNY Cortland were the first person in their family to attend a four-year college or university.

Earned Reputation

Ongoing feedback from teachers and administrators at school-district placement sites across New York State, in addition to assessments from student teaching supervisors, revealed that the Department’s future professionals were highly regarded and sought after. Student-teachers would often be offered a position in a school district in which they were placed.

In the early 1990s, the curricular decision to change student teaching from one quarter to a full semester enhanced student learning and the opportunity for student teachers to make an impact on the programs in which they were placed.

The Chair was periodically reminded of the quality of the physical education students during the post two-week field- experience interviews in which students expressed in-depth professional insights, lofty professional values, pride in their preparation and gratitude for their professors.

Perhaps the strongest reinforcement of this earned reputation was the ongoing stream of out-of-state as well as in- state requests to the Department for recent, or soon to become, graduates.

The Chair vividly remembers a call from an administrator, representing the County School District of Fairfax Virginia, who had fourteen physical education openings to fill. As The Chair began to extoll the competencies of Cortland graduates, he was politely interrupted with - “Excuse me sir, but I already know all that, that is why I am calling.”


Diversity among physical education students was not broader then the general student body which, although broader than faculty diversity, was not representative of New York State. This situation continued to exist in spite of the Education Opportunity Program which was initiated by the State University of New York in 1967 and an ongoing concerted effort by Enrollment Management to recruit community college graduates.

Contrary to stereotypes of African-American students and students from the “inner-city”, The Chair was often impressed at how well these students had developed in their so-called “culturally deprived” environments and how well they performed as students.

The Chair’s favorite memory, in this regard, involved a request from his wife, a Kindergarten teacher at Parker Elementary School, for The Chair to find a “big brother model” for a needy African-American boy in her kindergarten class. Having occasionally observed an African-American physical education student who seemed to have the presence for this role, The Chair inquired about him with faculty and, as they were very complimentary, The Chair approached him with a request to serve as a “big brother”, assuring him that this was not an expectation. The immediate reply from this young man from the Bronx was: “Thank you for the opportunity to help someone! I would not be here if people had not helped me and I have a responsibility to help others.” Needless to say, he served well in this role and also served as a model for the other kindergarten students, many of whom did not have fathers living at home. In the words of The Chair’s wife, “he is a personal magnet when he enters the classroom”.


This is the story of an academic program which, due to the talents of its professors, instructors and coaches, educated graduates who represented, and continue to represent, the College and their profession with honor, dignity and competence, thereby creating a continuing positive multi- generational impact on their communities.

“The sign of a good leader is, when the leader leaves the group, the group functions just as well without him.”

The Chair notes that his retirement led to even better group function under the leadership of Lynn MacDonald, his successor, who is also a Springfield College graduate and also a former lacrosse coach.


Gonino, Vincent J. The Story of Huntington Camp, Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 1974.

Knight, Frank. A Tribute to George Fuge, New York State Outdoor Education Journal, Dec. 23, 2009.

Ralston, Leonard F. Cortland College, An Illustrated History, Cortland College Alumni Association, 1991).

Van Dalen, Deobold B. & Bennett, Bruce L. A World History of Physical Education. Prentice Hall, Inc. 1971.