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Health and Sport Sciences Moves Into Game-Changing Facility

Health and Sport Sciences Moves Into Game-Changing Facility

It’s a dream come true for Dr. Joan Rocks, who recently moved her office into the renovated building formerly known as Davis Annex, now the Center of Health and Sport Sciences.

“We are actually over the moon,” said Rocks, who chairs the department. “I personally thought this possibility was eight to 10 years down the road. We are so appreciative that the University, with specific backing and support from Dean Barbara Schaffner and Provost Miguel Martinez-Saenz, has rewarded our consistent and steady growth.”

The Department of Health and Sport Sciences simply ran out of room, outgrowing its space, which it shared with Otterbein Athletics in the Clements Recreation Center and Rike Center.

The department has become one of the fastest growers on campus as job demand for many of the majors it offers are increasing at a rate faster than normal. Almost 300 students are enrolled in one of the five majors the department offers, with 111 in allied health, 58 in athletic training, eight in health education with public health concentration, 45 in health promotion and fitness and 75 in sport management. Students may also minor in nutrition.

Opportunities in these fields are growing with the job outlook for physical therapists, health educators and community health workers, and occupational therapists growing at a rate much faster than average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job demand for athletic trainers and exercise physiologists, speech therapists, strength and conditioning coaches, and chiropractors are growing at a rate faster than average.

Dr. Rocks did not have to travel far to get to her new office. Davis Annex is just across the street from Clements and Rike. Renovation of the former residence hall cost approximately $1 million. With the excitement over the project, the University anticipates that alumni and others might be interested in a naming recognition gift opportunity.

The recently-completed facility features two classrooms, a computer lab, a research lab, a lounge, a reception area and 14 offices for faculty.

The classrooms and teaching lab are equipped with state-of-the-art technology made for enhanced educational opportunities such as hands-on instruction and practice in a one-on-one or a one-on-two situation. The computer labs are designed for individual or group research related to areas of study within the Department of Health and Sport Sciences.

The Human Performance Lab is for students and faculty to engage in specific research projects but will also lend opportunities to conduct research and activities in the immediate community. Included in this area are gait analysis equipment, exercise- and fitness-based testing equipment, including VO2 Max measurement tools, and current fitness assessment devices. Dr. Blaise Williams will assist with the opening of the lab and train students and staff on the equipment in October.

The lounge area encourages and facilitates discussion and learning among students, faculty and staff. It is also equipped with a mini-kitchen to accommodate the busy schedules of both traditional and commuter students.

Perhaps one of the most widely anticipated features of the new facility will be windows, something lacking throughout the offices and classrooms in the Rike Center.

“Our faculty is a workhorse group,” Rocks said. “They are in every single day—10 to 12 hours a day—because they want to have that time with the students. So when you are in 10 to 12 hours a day, it’s really hard, sometimes, when you don’t have a window. Environment-wise, having a window is just huge for us.”

Rocks admitted, though, that windows ranked lower on her list.

“It has been all along on how we can make this the best student experience possible in this new space,” Rocks said. “The teaching lab, the computer lab, the lounge and accessibility all the time to us have really been the key drivers behind on how that space has been designed. I think it’s going to open up some really good opportunities for us recruiting-wise, to keep our growth going in a positive direction.”


View photos of the new Center of Health and Sport Sciences and the open house during Homecoming.

Learn more about the Department of Health and Sport Sciences at Otterbein.