Movement Science House offers new academic hub

Courtesy / Zachary Waugh
Movement Science House logo

Courtesy / Zachary Waugh Movement Science House logo

Derek Wolff

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Always moving, moving always – that’s the motto typically associated with the Movement Science program at Grand Valley State University.

That mantra seems to hold true with the program’s latest venture, a grassroots effort to create an academic community that houses movement science majors from its four disciplines within the first floor of the South D Apartment complex.

Beginning with the fall 2012 semester, students majoring in exercise science, athletic training, physical education and sports leadership were presented with the opportunity to live in the new “Movement Science House,” a fledgling academic community that seeks to emulate other successful living centers on campus, such as the Niemeyer Honors College or WISE.

The project was the brainchild of a handful of faculty members and senior exercise science major Zak Waugh, who created a 27-page development plan for the community last year that he presented at Student Scholars Day as part of his senior project for the Honors College.

Waugh, who serves as a resident assistant for the house, followed the model that had been successful for other academic communities when trying to create one that would tailor to the needs of movement science majors.

“I interviewed some students on campus and talked with people involved in other academic communities,” Waugh said. “We put together this information on how you would create one from the ground up.”

Brian Hatzel, director of the Movement Science Program, has worked closely with Waugh and several other student leaders in developing the house, which he hopes will draw in some of the program’s 1,500-plus students.

“It’s something that all the literature shows that retention and persistence and student success is better in those that are engaged in an academic community,” Hatzel said. “So we figured we’d give it a shot.”

The goal is that the house will become a major hub for a variety of club meetings and activities and create a learning environment where engagement is crucial.

“It’s for all of the majors, not just for the residents,” Hatzel said. “The idea is that we’ll draw the students that are living here out of their rooms and they’ll be more engaged. We want it to be led by students. We want them to plan their own programming.”
Students who choose to live in the Movement Science House will have the extra incentive of gaining priority when signing up for entry level Liberal Studies and Movement Science programs.

“I want there to be competition,” Waugh said. “One incentive is that these students are going to get the classes they want, especially in those early classes. It’s really hard to get into Movement 101 or Lib 100. There’s a lot of them offered, but if there’s one specifically they want, there are sections that are tailored to them.”

Senior Brian Schulte, a current resident of the Movement Science House, said close access to the faculty, among other things, made his choice of living there this year an easy one.

“One of the best parts of living here is having faculty hold office hours in the building,” Schulte said. “I know that if I need some advice from a movement science, or even a non-movement science related issue, there is someone that I can go to. The residents are a great group of students with diverse backgrounds and interests. Coupled with top-notch living amenities, it makes for a great place to live.”

The exercise science major is one of the most popular offered at GVSU, with over 900 students. Expectations among both the student leaders and faculty members are that the house will be filled with the capacity for about 60 students for the 2013-2014 academic year, with expansion possible over the next couple of years.

Waugh said the community will offer a unique perspective for students who choose to be a part of it.

“Why this community will last is because our field is a way of life,” he said. “While I respect and fully appreciate everyone’s major, there’s a real application with our major and that is to promote the health and wellness of every individual, no matter the circumstance. This community represents a group of students who are committed to upholding those values.”

And it’s already paying dividends, Schulte said.

“The Movement Science house not only provides the opportunity to live with other students who have similar career interests, but provides a very underrated opportunity to network with the faculty of the Movement Science department.”

Students interested in signing up to live in the Movement Science House for the 2013-14 year can learn more about it at

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