AHS to undergo name change, becoming the Faculty of Health

Graphics by Candice Cheng

With the goal of creating a cohesive and marketable faculty brand, the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) will be rebranded as the Faculty of Health as of Jan. 1, 2021 and will complete its transition into the new name by Sept. 2021.

“While we built a community around the AHS acronym and love it, we also saw that externally, there was confusion about what we represented as a Faculty. Rebranding as the Faculty of Health allows others to easily understand what we study and aim to achieve – which is a healthier world in all its dimensions,” Lili Liu, Dean AHS, said. 

The name change proposal is part of the faculty’s new strategic plan, which aims to provide more clarity regarding the brand name, especially to the faculty’s external stakeholders. 

“The name ‘Applied Health Sciences’ was chosen in 1990, with the rationale that ‘Applied’ reflects the importance of applying research to current health challenges. However, in terms of branding identity, the word ‘Applied’ can be misunderstood by external audiences, resulting in the need to clarify what it means and why it is part of the name,” AHS stated in the proposal.

The proposal continues by reasoning that in Ontario, the world “applied” has a certain connotation associated with the non-academic and vocational streams offered in highschools. Therefore, including “applied” in the faculty name may lead to misperceptions about the program for prospective students and diminish AHS’s academic reputation — as stated in the faculties proposal.

The faculty notes that the name change will be more representative of its three academic units — Kinesiology, Recreation and Leisure Studies, and the School of Health and Health Systems. The name change  is representative of the faculty’s diverse outlook of health and its goal of creating healthy futures for all, as outlined by AHS’s 2020-25 priorities. 

While drafting the proposal, various student bodies and experts were consulted before making the name change. Consultation began Winter 2020. 

“AHS started consultations just before the pandemic hit – beginning with informal consultations with AHSUM, student representatives on the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee, and small focus groups. AHS sent out a more formal survey at the beginning of June 2020. Since then, AHS has also met with Abbie Simpson, WUSA President, to discuss how student consultations can be further enhanced during future initiatives,” Jule Recchia, President AHSUM, said. 

Faculty, staff, and graduate students were asked for input on the new name via the Dean’s monthly newsletter, and student consultations held via student associations. Throughout the year, Alumni were informally canvassed by the Dean and Advancement Director while in Boston, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Toronto.

Regardless of the name change, AHS vows to maintain the culture of the faculty and will continue to be a caring and welcoming community. Additionally, the faculty’s associated societies and clubs look to maintain their current names which are based on the AHS acronym. 

“AHS is aware that undergraduate students are attached to the “AHS” acronym, which includes AHSUM, AHSEF, and AHSSIE. AHS is committed to keeping those names if that is what students want. In order to further understand undergraduate students’ preferences, AHSUM is going to distribute a survey this term to get feedback about changing the acronyms and to ask for suggestions for new acronyms, if desired,” Recchia said. 

The name change proposal was passed on Oct. 27 by the UW Board of Governors. The next stage for the name change will begin Jan. 2021.