A Brief History of the Western Society for Kinesiology & Wellness
(Formerly Western College Physical Education Society)

The first meeting of the Western College Physical Education Society (WCPES), originally the Western College Men’s Physical Education Society (WCMPES), was held at the University of Utah in the Fall of 1956. A small group of college and university physical educators from Western states met to discuss inequity in selecting sites for the College Physical Education Association’s (CPEA) annual meetings. From this initial meeting came recommendations that CPEA meet periodically in states west of the Mississippi or provide for a CPEA western division.

After the Utah meeting, questionnaires were distributed to western college and university male physical educators by E.C. Davis of USC. In response to the questionnaires, the following decisions were made:

  1. Meet independently from CPEA.
  2. Deal only with the topic of physical education.
  3. Use a round table discussion format without presenters or panels. In effect, each member is to participate and serve as a resource person.
  4. Limit the program to the discussion of two or three problems or issues.

At CPEA’s national meeting in 1957, WCMPES elected to meet independently in Reno in October 1958. A committee was formed to draft an Operating Code. The Code, limited to one typewritten page, set forth conditions for continuing the format as prescribed by its charter members.

After CPEA’s demise, and the subsequent formation of the National Association of Physical Education in Higher Education (NAPEHE), overtures were made by WCMPES to amalgamate and/or meet jointly with the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women (WSPECW). WSPECW rejected the offers. In 1986, WCMPES chose to drop the “M” from its title and open its membership to all college and university physical educators.

The Dr. G.A. “Art” Broten Scholar program, originated by Bob Ritson and others in 1987, encouraged the involvement of younger college and university physical educators in WCPES. A call for papers is made annually with time allotted in the conference program for presentation of these papers. Dr. Broten finances the program, and monetary awards are given to these young scholars to help defray travel costs to the conference.

In 1988, Sam Winningham from CSU Northridge commissioned a WCPES logo. John Ostarello from CSU East Bay modified the logo in 2005 to reflect the name change to WSKW and to provide a more modern appearance. Earlier in 1994, Jerry L. Ballew of the University of Nevada, Reno created a motto, “Where the conferee is the program and mentoring and networking are the foundation.” The motto reflects the position of the Society and provides the basis for unique professional conferences.

In order to better represent the work of the Society and in recognition of the trend in the profession to include language that more adequately reflective the professional practice of the 21st century, the membership initiated action to change the name of the organization. Following the 2004 meeting, the membership approved a name change to the Western Society for Kinesiology and Wellness (WSKW) to inaugurate its 50th anniversary.

Not only did the title of the organization evolve so did the intent and purpose of WSKW. In 2017, the organization supports a peer-reviewed journal, an online website that offers information on the profession as well as the practice of kinesiology and wellness, and a yearly convention. The convention itself has become more inclusive of various academic presentations including student research, faculty research, academic presentations, forums, and professional panels to address current issues. A highlight of the convention is the E.C. Davis lecture, named after the acclaimed academic who was a founding member, in which noted professional academics within the field are invited to share current important and political topics with the attendees.

The Western Society of Kinesiology and Wellness has moved into the 21st century with vision, inclusiveness, and bold vision.