Shepherd’s Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Sport program receives accreditation
Shepherd University’s Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Sport program (HPERS) is the first in the state of West Virginia to receive accreditation from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT).
Shepherd joins 80 other academic programs from across the country in receiving the accreditation, which the NRPA website says “recognizes academic programs in colleges and universities that prepare new professionals to enter the parks, recreation, tourism and related professions.”
Dr. Greg Place, assistant professor of recreation and leisure studies, spearheaded the effort to attain the accreditation. He said COAPRT took into consideration several factors, including how well students are learning, how qualified the professors are, and overall student involvement in the program.
“The primary benefit to being an accredited program is the agencies that will hire graduates understand that the students have met certain criteria as far as academics and the content that’s been covered,” Place said. “And an immediate benefit is that they can sit for a certification exam immediately upon graduating from college.”
Place said students who graduate from programs that aren’t accredited have to wait a year to take the exam, which might make a difference in whether a graduate is chosen for some jobs.
Dr. Stacey Kendig, department chair, called the accreditation a status type of accolade.
“It’s one of those things where students can go out and say they not only graduated from Shepherd University, which is accredited nationally as a liberal arts university, but also they came from an accredited program,” Kendig said. “It’s kind of a double whammy and students can put that on their resumes.”
Kendig said the accreditation will be particularly helpful to students who want to pursue a master’s degree because it will increase the odds of being accepted in a program.
About 385 students major in HPERS. They can choose concentrations in athletic coaching, fitness and exercise science, sport marketing, sport and event management, public recreation and park administration, and therapeutic recreation.
Kendig said in the fall the program will change its name to Recreation and Sports Studies to better reflect what it teaches.