University of San Francisco, Department of Kinesiology
page-template-default,page,page-id-17300,bridge-core-3.2.0,qode-page-transition-enabled,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode_grid_1400,hide_top_bar_on_mobile_header,qode-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,qode-theme-ver-30.6,qode-theme-bridge,disabled_footer_bottom,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-7.7.2,vc_responsive

University of San Francisco, Department of Kinesiology

by Karen L. Francis, Associate Professor and Chair

University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco (USF) was established in 1855 as the City of San Francisco’s first institution of higher education under the guidance of Father Anthony Maraschi, S.J., founder and first president. The Jesuit traditions of scholarship and dedication to a liberal education are the foundation for all academic programs at USF. Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered across one college and four schools; College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, School of Management, and School of Nursing and Health Professions. Current enrollment for the university is 10,130; 6,392 undergraduate and 3,738 graduate students. The University’s humanistic tradition views the individual mind and spirit as its most valuable resources. The academic philosophy at USF emphasizes enrichment of personal values, expansion of personal responsibility, and lifelong learning.

Department History

The Department of Physical Education was created in 1973, housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, and located in Memorial Gymnasium. In 2006 the department was relocated to Harney Science Center. In April of 2012, the department name changed to Kinesiology (formally the Department of Exercise and Sports Science) in an effort to reflect more appropriately what we do and in keeping with the changes in the field at the national level.

The mission of our department is to advance knowledge and application of physical activity to promote health and well-being of all people. As a faculty we are committed to the values of social justice and advocacy; excellence in teaching, research, and service; collaboration and engagement; academic freedom and the diversity of ideas; and ethics and professionalism.

Undergraduate Program

The Department of Kinesiology offers a BS in Kinesiology. The curriculum offered by the Department of Kinesiology at USF emphasizes the study of human movement across the life span from biological and behavioral perspectives. Faculty expertise encompasses several specialized areas of kinesiology including exercise physiology, motor control and learning, motor development, and psychology and sociology of physical activity. All undergraduate majors complete 52 units in the major that include four physical activity courses, Anatomy, Physiology, Introduction to Kinesiology, Anatomical Kinesiology, Measurement and Statistics, Motor Development, Motor Learning, Sport and Exercise Psychology, Exercise Physiology and at least three courses in an advanced area of study. The faculty has been actively involved in the creation and development of four interdisciplinary minors: Child and Youth Studies, Gerontology, Health Studies, and Neuroscience. The department offers several core and elective courses for each minor and faculty serve on minor program advisory boards. Additionally the department offers a physical activity program for the university.

The Physical Activity Program is an integral part of our department. The program provides an avenue to facilitate and encourage life-long engagement in physical activity to the broader USF community. We currently offer 34 physical activity classes and serve more than 800 students (majors and non majors) a year.

The enrollment trends have shifted dramatically in the past eight years, since our relocation to Harney Science Center. The relocation contributed to enrollment increases because of our greater visibility for students and direct links to other related sciences. We currently have 260 majors, which is a 40% percent increase across eight years. We are the second largest undergraduate major in the Sciences and the fourth largest in the College of Arts and Sciences. We currently have 5 tenure-track faculty, 2 full-time adjunct faculty, and 21 part-time adjunct faculty.

Uniqueness of our Programs

The undergraduate degree program and the physical activity program within the Department of Kinesiology are designed with a commitment to the core values of the university. We focus on learning as a humanizing activity that incorporates a diversity of perspectives in the development of socially responsible citizens who will engage in the activities of the campus, city, and the broader community. Our faculty members work closely with students to foster critical thinking skills, develop scholarly independence, and nurture multi-faceted and cooperative approaches to problem solving through a broad range of curricular and extra-curricular experiences. Faculty members are committed to actively engaging students in their research both for its educational values and for its larger role in preparing students to be effective and productive community members.

Two central contributions of our program are an emphasis on embracing community outreach and undergraduate research.

Community Outreach

The faculty in our department embrace USF’s mission to create a more humane and just world. This is evidenced by our commitment to community outreach to underserved populations and our desire to share these experiences with our students.

Faulty are engaged in community projects investigating the effectiveness of falls prevention exercise on falls and fall risk in community-dwelling older adults. The Always Active Falls Prevention Program has served over 250 adults since 2007. Faculty and students offer multi-modal exercise training sessions at several senior centers in San Francisco. The program has been continuously funded since 2007 by many sources including the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services.

Faculty serve in the capacity as volunteer mentors and fundraisers for Big City Mountaineer (BCM), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the lives of under-resourced teens through transformative outdoor experiences. Volunteer mentor experiences include weeklong summer backpacking expeditions to Yosemite and Inyo National Forest. In February 2013, two faculty members climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro through BCM’s Summit for Someone program. The funds raised through Summit for Someone support the summer backpacking expeditions.

Faculty serve as volunteer mentors for the Center for Child Protection at Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. As part of the domestic violence education services faculty serve as volunteer camp counselors. The camp (Creating Confident People) combines the typical summer camp experience with group psychotherapy for children exposed to child abuse trauma and/or violence.

Undergraduate Research

The faculty value undergraduate research and provide multiple opportunities for research experience. Research experiences include student engagement in the development of research ideas and experimental designs, and collection, coding, and analysis of data. Student participation in research activity is accomplished by either enrollment in directed research where student receives course credit or by volunteering where no course credit is received. Currently approximately one-fourth of kinesiology majors are engaged in some form of research experience.

The Department of Kinesiology at USF through its mission, vision, and goals continues to produce scholars that benefit the San Francisco community and society at large. For additional information please contact Karen L. Francis, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, or check our website at