History of the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management

The School of Physical Education and Tourism Management is the oldest unit at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and the oldest existing school in the country for the preparation of physical education teachers.

The school was founded in New York City in 1866 as the Normal College of the American Gymnastic Union. It was established by the American Turners to prepare instructors for their gymnastics societies.

The school moved to Chicago in 1871 only to be burned out by the great Chicago fire, which forced it to return to New York, where it remained until 1873. The school then moved to Milwaukee and finally settled in Indianapolis in 1907. During these years, the curriculum was continually expanded, from a four-month certificate program to a one-year, then a two-year, and eventually a four-year degree program. The curricular changes were in response to the ever-changing needs for trained professionals in other educational institutions.

The Normal College merged with Indiana University in 1941, when financial difficulties occurred. Under the merger, students attended the Normal College in Indianapolis for two years and completed their junior and senior years in Bloomington, where they earned the Bachelor of Science in Physical Education degree. This arrangement remained in effect until 1969, when the junior-year program was moved to Indianapolis, followed by the senior-year program in 1972. In the same year, the name of the college was changed to the School of Physical Education to reflect more closely the mission of the school as a training center for teachers of physical education. Since that time, the physical education curriculum has added majors in exercise science, fitness management and personal training, sports management, and pre–professional programs:  pre-med, pre-physician assistant, and pre-occupational or physical therapy.

In 1994, the school assumed administrative responsibilities for the Purdue University Department of Restaurant, Hotel, Institutional and Tourism Management. In response to changing needs in the tourism industry, a new Indiana University degree in Tourism, Conventions and Event Management was approved in 1999. The growth of this degree program, as well as five certificate programs, resulted in another name change for the school to the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management.