Celebrating 60 Years
By Alicia K. Stanton
On October 29th, current and former professors and students gathered at the Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center to celebrate 60 years of teaching and learning in BYU’s Health Science department. A video themed “That was Then, This is Now” captured the audience’s attention—and for good reason.
Over the last 60 years, the Health Science department has changed everything from its subject matter to its location in the university. But the one thing that has not changed is its commitment to preparing students to help others improve their health.
When the Health Science department got its start in 1955, it formed part of the College of Physical Education, later renamed the College of Health and Human Performance. Back then, the Health Science program prepared students to be coaches and physical education teachers.
The late Clarence F. Robison, the first chair of the Health Science department, said that “the most enjoyable part [was] working with the students.” He described the students in his health classes as kind, respectful, and hungry for information.
Today, health science students have an increasing amount of useful information available to them. The emphasis of the department has changed to focus on public health, which is a population-based and prevention-oriented approach to promoting good health.
“Johns Hopkins’ School of Public Health uses the motto, ‘Saving Lives by the Millions.’ That’s what we do,” says health science professor Dr. Gordon Lindsay. “[For example,] if I can get a city to implement fluoridated water, it’s like I’ve done the work of whole bunches of dentists for their whole lifetimes in terms of the impact on cavities. . . . That’s public health.”
As recently as the year 2009, the department of Health Science went through even more change when it moved to the College of Life Sciences after the College of Health and Human Performance disbanded.
Lindsay, who has taught in the department for 21 years, says, “We have prospered in this college. We’ve enjoyed the leadership, and resources have not been an issue for us. . . . I sense great growth, both in terms of the quality and sophistication of the program.”
Left to Right. Front Row: Ray Petersen, Ron Rhodes, Ray Watters, Robert Burgener, Don Shaw. Middle Row: Glen Tuckett, Steve Heiner, Richard Salazar, McKay Rollins, Alton Thygerson, Richard Hurley. Top Row: Keith Karren, Sherald James, Clarence Robison, Brent Hafen, Willard Hirschi, Paul Coon.