Kinesiology department under a new leadership


Housed within the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies welcomed a new department head earlier this semester.

Prior to coming to Southeastern, Charity Bryan held multiple positions at other universities across the south, including Kennesaw State University, Louisiana State University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Bryan holds three degrees: a bachelor’s in physical education from Samford University, a Master’s in the same field from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a doctorate in kinesiology from LSU.

Bryan shared that before she decided to pursue physical education, she initially pursued a different major as an undergraduate.

“I actually started out as a business major in undergrad because I wanted to ‘make money’ when I graduated,” said Bryan. “However, I soon realized that it was probably a better idea to pursue a career that would actually fuel my happiness, as opposed to my bank account.  When I envisioned a ‘perfect day,’ I realized that if I could play some kind of sport every day for the rest of my life, that would make me so happy. I figured the best way to play sports every day was to be a physical education teacher, so that is when I changed my major my sophomore year.”

Through her positions at ULL and LSU, Bryan became familiar with the university’s kinesiology department. She decided to apply after a conversation with the former department head, Edward Hebert.

“I knew that Dr. Hebert had decided to go back to teaching full time, so I called him and said, ‘Tell me about the department head position at Southeastern,’” explained Bryan. “After that conversation, I decided to apply. I felt good about applying because I knew several of the faculty members from my years in Louisiana and through our state professional organization, LAHPERD (Louisiana Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance).”

After less than two weeks of being on campus, Bryan was having to prepare for the transition to remote learning.

“Fortunately, I have an extensive background in online learning from both UL Lafayette and later serving as the inaugural Director of LSU Online, and I hope these experiences have been helpful to our faculty as we have made the transition to online this semester,” commented Bryan.

As far as keeping busy during quarantine, Bryan shared that she relies on exercise to keep a healthy mindset.

“I know that I would much rather see my faculty and students face-to-face every day, but one thing that has helped me maintain my sanity is some form of physical activity,” said Bryan. “Whether it is biking, running, walking, tennis or golf, I look so forward to being outdoors at the end of the day. The fresh air and Vitamin D go a long way in combating the feelings of cabin fever.”

Christie Emerson, clinical assistant professor at WellStar College of Nursing at Kennesaw State University, described what she feels are some of Bryan’s best qualities.

“Dr. Bryan’s best qualities as an educator align with her best qualities as a person,” shared Emerson. “She is extremely dependable and creative, as well as very funny. She has a knack for anticipating what students need. I can say without a moment’s pause that I enjoyed Dr. Bryan’s sense of humor in all situations. While she was very serious about doing her job at the highest level, she never missed an opportunity to see the humor in all situations.”

Bryan shared what she hopes to achieve in her position as a department head.

“The KHS department is in great shape, thanks to former leaders Dr. Hebert and Dr. Sirikul, and there really are no major issues to address,” said Bryan. “Sometimes groups aspire to go from ‘good to great,’ but I think KHS can go from ‘great to exceptional,’ and I look forward to working with our faculty to define what ‘exceptional’ means for our department and for our students.”

In addition to her pursuits within the department, Bryan is also looking forward to other elements of campus life.

“I also look forward to getting to know our students, once we are all safely back on campus,” shared Bryan. “I want to go to football games, athletic events and participate in all of the things that make Southeastern special. I would also like to see us have a resurgence of our major’s club in KHS.”

Even though she has not been able to spend much time on campus, Bryan mentioned that, so far, she has enjoyed the positive interactions between herself and other students and faculty.

“Keep in mind, my fourth day on the job began the pandemic planning, so there are many people that I have yet to meet in person,” shared Bryan. “However, I have spoken with them by phone or communicated by email and everyone has been so gracious, kind and helpful. I look forward to meeting all of these great folks in person at some point.”