Faculty name change proposal

One of the discussions during the Strategic Planning process has revolved around the name of the Faculty and whether a broader name would more fully represent not only our academic programs and research, but be more in line with our priorities for 2020-25 and beyond.

The Committee has proposed: Faculty of Health.


  1. The Faculty has been known by different names since its inception: It grew out of the School of Physical and Health Education in 1967, became the School of Physical Education and Recreation in 1968, and developed into the Faculty of Human Kinetics and Leisure Studies in the 1970s. The name ‘Applied Health Sciences’ was chosen in 1990, with the rationale that ‘Applied’ reflects the importance of applying research to current health challenges. However, in terms of branding identity, the word ‘Applied’ can be misunderstood by external audiences, resulting in the need to clarify what it means and why it is part of the name. In Ontario especially, the word ‘Applied’ has other connotations based on the non-academic/vocational stream in high schools, which can result in misperceptions for prospective students, and may diminish the view of our academic strengths. While we still prioritize the importance of applying academic knowledge to everyday health problems, we believe the word does not need to be in the name of the Faculty since it misrepresents our educational offerings to some of our key stakeholders: prospective undergraduate students seeking to enter health professional career paths, as well as to industry.
  2. In addition, the research that is conducted in the three academic units reflects different aspects of health and well-being and looks at this from different perspectives, not just the sciences. Seeing as how our priorities for 2020-25 will encompass a multidisciplinary view of health, including that implied in recreation and leisure studies, the proposed name change would align more clearly with our vision of building healthy futures for all.
  3. Finally, the name would be consistent with the other University Faculty names, which are all one word: Engineering, Arts, Environment, Science, Math, and which would add clarity to our brand offering.

Environmental scan

Our counterparts in Canada are as follows:

  • Dalhousie and York* – Faculty of Health
  • McMaster, Western, Queen’s, Manitoba, SFU* and Ottawa – Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Manitoba – also has a Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management
  • Regina* – Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies
  • Winnipeg* – Gupta Faculty of Kinesiology and Applied Health
  • Brock* – Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Furthermore, some universities have programs in kinesiology, recreation and public health, but do not use ‘Health’ in their Faculty names. Because of this inconsistency in naming conventions, and the range of Faculty names related to the study of health, it is reasonable to expect that the name change will not have any negative impact on our place in the Canadian educational system. Moreover, students tend to identify with their program name, not that of the Faculty, which would not be affected by this change at this time.

*No medical school

Consultation process

The proposed name change was approved unanimously by the AHS Strategic Planning Advisory Committee, and will be presented at Administrative Council, Faculty Council, Dean’s Council, Senate and the Board of Governors.

Faculty, staff and graduate students were asked for input via the Dean’s monthly newsletter, and then via a survey on the final draft of the Strategic Plan 2020-25. Faculty and staff were also consulted at various committees, and were invited to contact a member of the Strategic Planning Advisory committee to share comments.

Undergraduate and graduate students were consulted via their student associations, with special consideration being made to retain the AHS acronym for undergraduate (or all) students. The kangaroo mascot, AHSSIE, and AHSUM, the undergraduate student association, both rely on the acronym. (There are possibilities for retaining it if it were to change, for example, to the “Association of Health Students.”) Students were also invited to take a survey and to share opinions with the committee or by emailing exanders@uwaterloo.ca.

Alumni were also informally canvassed throughout the year by the Dean and Advancement Director while in Boston, Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto.

Timelines 2020 if name approved

To be in place for the Fall 2022 recruitment cycle, these are the timelines that need to be met:

February – Consultation meetings with faculty, staff and students begin

February 19 – Report to Admin Council

March 27 – Report to Faculty Council

April 1 – Deans’ Council for discussion

May/June – Admin Council for approval

June – Faculty Council for approval

August – Report submitted for Senate meeting

September – Deans’ Council for discussion

September – Senate meeting

October 27 – Board of Governors’ meeting

January 2021 – Implementation begins

September 2021 – Implementation complete

Do you have questions? Visit our Q&A page.