Southern Miss School of Human Performance and Recreation Gets New Name, New Director

Southern Miss School of Human Performance and Recreation Gets New Name, New Director

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The following is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi

The School of Human Performance and Recreation at The University of Southern Mississippi has adopted a new name - The School of Kinesiology - and a new director in Dr. Scott Piland.

After a year-long process, the name change was officially approved in April by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

"When adopted in the '70s, the name 'Human Performance and Recreation' provided a current reflection of who we were and what we intended to become," said Piland, associate professor in the School of Kinesiology. "Now, after realizing those once-set goals, it is time to revamp, refocus and build upon the firm foundation provided by our past."

Kinesiology, the study of human movement, is derived from the Greek terms kinesis, movement, and kinein, to move. The American Kinesiology Association defines kinesiology as an "academic discipline which involves the study of physical activity and its impact on health, society, and quality of life." The multifaceted discipline encompasses areas of study that examine physical activity from various perspectives.

"To not only stay current, but to also fully realize the potential of flagship educational programs and research agendas, we require a name that not only provides an immediate global identification, but also properly identifies and forecasts the vision we have for the future of our School. 'Kinesiology' does these things better than any other name," said Piland.

Since 2006, when the National Research Council recognized kinesiology as a life sciences academic discipline and included the discipline in its classification of research doctoral programs, the kinesiology name has been increasingly adopted by universities with similar academic units.

Degrees designated as human performance will also change to kinesiology. "Kinesiology encompasses all human movement sciences," said Erica Pasquini, a kinesiology doctoral student. "The relevance of the name in the academic realm means innumerable opportunities for students graduating with this degree."

In addition to a new name, Piland has been named the School of Kinesiology's new director, effective July 1. Piland will lead the School in creating the best educators, clinicians and scientists.

"Our new name reflects the unity of our different academic degree offerings and our commitment to building a community focused on the main goal of improving quality of life for the people we serve," said Piland.

Piland joined Southern Miss faculty in 2004. His first assignment in the School was to serve as Clinical Coordinator for the Athletic Training Program. Piland has also served in administrative roles as the School's assistant director for faculty development and research promotion and assistant director for undergraduate studies.

"As a senior professor and key member of the administrative team for several years, Dr. Piland is well suited to offer leadership to a rebranded 'School of Kinesiology,'" said Dr. Michael Forster, dean of the College of Health. "He understands both the School's past and its great potential for the future."

A native of Bainbridge, Ga., Piland earned his bachelor's degree in sport medicine and athletic training from Valdosta State University (1996); his Masters of Arts in sports medicine from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1998) and his Ph.D. in exercise science from The University of Georgia (2004).

Piland's dedication to student learning has not gone unnoticed. He has received the College of Health Distinguished Teaching award and was named Faculty Member of the Month by the College's student ambassadors.

Taking his athletic training knowledge off the field and into the lab, Piland is addressing pressing issues in concussion research. In 2004, Piland received the Journal of Athletic Training Kenneth L. Knight Outstanding Manuscript Award for his work titled, "Evidence for the Factorial and Construct Validity of a Self-Report Concussion Symptoms Scale."

His manuscript titled, "Investigation of Baseline Self-Report Concussion Symptom Scores" was a 2011 nominee for the same award. Piland currently serves on the Journal of Athletic Training editorial board. In 2013, Piland was awarded the Southern Miss Multidisciplinary Research Award.

Piland, along with Dr. Trent Gould, associate dean of the College of Health and Dr. Jeff Wiggins, director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, was recently awarded a $4.9 million research contract from the United States Army for development and evaluation on a helmet liner designed to provide enhanced head protection for warfighters.

"I often hear people make statements like, 'our strength is in our diversity,'" said Piland. "This new name fortifies our belief that due to the commonality of our mission, to better understand and create new knowledge about the study of human movement and all of its various facets, our diversity and focus areas weave the finest of tapestries."

For more information about the School of Kinesiology in The University of Southern Mississippi's College of Health, visit