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Northwest Missouri State University


Department Spotlight January 2013

The mission of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is “to prepare and develop professionals to become leaders in the facilitation of healthy, active lifestyles throughout society and across the lifespan.”  The HHS faculty members work collectively to implement a diverse array of academic degree offerings and campus programs that focus on a vision of “life span health and active living.”  Dr. Matt Symonds, Department Chair, noted that he enjoys the daily opportunity to work together with colleagues to promote a “healthy, active lifestyle!”

With a mission that focuses on preparing students to serve the general public and a vision of a healthy society, the work of the department is first grounded in academics.  Courses provide a dynamic mix of conceptual and practical learning that directly targets the health-related challenges of today.  All students take part in internship or student teaching experiences, with student majors completing a minimum of 700 hours of work in an actual service providing agency before graduation.  Minors are required to complete at least 200 hours of field work before graduation.  Bachelor’s degrees are offered in Dietetics, Therapeutic Recreation, Parks and Recreation Management, Corporate Recreation and Wellness, and Physical Education, with minors in Coaching, Health Education and Recreation.  In addition, the department collaborates with other academic departments to offer interdisciplinary minors in sports psychology and gerontology.

At the graduate level, Master’s degrees are offered in Recreation, Applied Health and Sport Science, and Health and Physical Education.  As a whole, the graduate programs are very comprehensive and structured according to the changing demands.  They also align with the department commitment to active living for all people and the philosophy that students should be exposed to practical learning experiences.  Through internships, student employment opportunities and graduate assistantships, graduate students leave Northwest with both a degree and experience.

The opportunities offered through the HHS graduate program have resulted in an unusually diverse group of graduate students.  The department currently hosts graduate students from Japan, England, and Canada with recent graduates from India and Morocco. 

Student preparation is a critical part of the HHS vision, but utilizing student, faculty and facility resources to serve the health and wellness-related needs of the campus and community is also an important aspect of this vision.  Key elements in this realm include the University Fitness Center, the Campus Recreation Center, and the Mozingo Outdoor Education and Recreation Area (MOERA).  These facilities are managed by the HHS department and are critical to student learning opportunities, but they also provide programs designed to actively engage students, faculty and community members.  For example, MOERA offers organized outdoor recreation activities such as trap shooting, archery, and boating to the general public, as well as professional development and team building opportunities through the MOERA Challenge Course facilities.

In addition, HHS faculty members serve in key leadership roles for a variety of community-based agencies.  These agencies include Maryville Parks and Recreation, the Nodaway County Health Department, Midland Empire Resources for Independent Living (MERIL), the Missouri Parks and Recreation Association, and the Missouri Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

Please take a minute to meet the faculty and staff of the department listed below.  Together these Northwest employees have contributed 197 years of service to the University.  Thank you to the Department of Health and Human Services for your contributions to our campus and to our community.

  • Loren Butler, Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education
  • Bryan Dorrel, Instructor of Health and Physical Education
  • Karen From, Instructor of Nutrition/Dietetics
  • Jeff Ferguson, Associate Professor of Recreation
  • Alice Foose, Assistant Professor of Recreation
  • Jon Gustafson, Director of Operations for MOERA/Instructor of Recreation
  • Cathie Hannigan, Office Manager
  • Matthew Johnson, Instructor of Health and Physical Education
  • Terry Long, Associate Professor of Recreation
  • Gina McNeese, Instructor of Health and Physical Education
  • Sue Myllykangas, Associate Professor of Recreation
  • Janet Reusser, Professor of Health and Physical Education
  • Terry Robertson, Professor of Recreation
  • Matthew Symonds, Assistant Professor/Chair of Health and Human Services
  • Rob Veasey, Director of Fitness Center
  • Rheba Vetter, Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education