Dr. Dani Brittain. (Photo: David Stobbe)
Dr. Dani Brittain. (Photo: David Stobbe)

USask Kinesiology welcomes new dean

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) has named Dr. Dani Brittain (PhD) as dean of the College of Kinesiology for a five-year term beginning July 1, 2024.

By Alyssa Wiebe | Kinesiology Communications

Brittain joins the college after spending nearly four years as a professor and associate dean for Academic and Student Affairs at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Brittain, a first-generation college student, raised in a rural Kansas community (Medicine Lodge, Kansas), is no stranger to the Prairies or the USask College of Kinesiology. In 2005, she joined the college as a post-doctoral fellow after receiving her PhD in kinesiology from Kansas State University.

“I’m so excited to be back with the College of Kinesiology, as the college and the people have always held a special place in my heart,” she said. “Nearly two decades ago, I was drawn to this college because of the faculty and the cutting-edge and innovative research. What has been so impressive to me, is that this college has maintained that level of excellence and innovation in academics, research, and community programming. The secret for how this happens: the people. The dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners, who all contribute to creating this community of excellence and care. The University of Saskatchewan is a top research university in Canada and globally, and the College of Kinesiology is a major contributor to that success.”

Over the next few months, Brittain will prioritize getting to know the College of Kinesiology, USask Rec, and Huskie Athletics, through discussions with the people involved and through a review of strategic priorities. 

“Based on my review up to this point, it is clear to me that the college excels in so many ways and it is important to elevate the visibility of this success,” she said. “We have top-ranked research-teaching faculty and coaches, our students are excelling in academics and athletics both nationally and internationally, and our recreation programming is the go-to spot for community members to maintain healthy lifestyles. When people think of the University of Saskatchewan, I want them to think of the College of Kinesiology.”

Additional priorities will be to continue the college’s commitment to leading efforts toward reconciliation and uplifting Indigenization within all areas of responsibility of the college, and to continue the implementation of initiatives focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

From a personal perspective, kinesiology has always been a natural fit for Brittain. As a kid, her favorite subject in school was Physical Education (PE). She attributes that love for PE to her amazing teachers in Grades K-12.

“I can still remember patiently waiting each school day for when it was time for PE! The chance to run around, play games and engage with my classmates,” she said. “I may have not understood back in early elementary school why PE was so important, I just remembered that it was fun!”

From that moment on, she made physical activity a part of her life through sport in high school and college, her career, and her hobbies.

While Brittain did not become a PE teacher, she did choose kinesiology for her career. A field that has inspired her to understand how social-psychological factors impact adherence to physical activity among marginalized populations of women (i.e., adult lesbians; women with non-cancer chronic pain) and how to work with community partners on the development and implementation of programs that aid people in the self-management and maintenance of physical activity.

Brittain has relocated to Saskatoon from Colorado and plans to keep her outdoor and active lifestyle front of mind. She enjoys hiking, skiing, cycling, spending time with family and friends, traveling while learning about new cultures, and listening to and reading documentaries.

“I am looking forward to living in Saskatoon and learning about the history and the people of Saskatchewan as well as the college and USask, watching Huskie teams in action, and seeing the northern lights. I have also heard that there are some amazing cross-country ski trails in the city, so I’m looking forward to trying out those trails.”

Brittain will succeed Dr. Joel Lanovaz (PhD), who has served as the interim dean in the USask College of Kinesiology since July 2022.

Together we will support and inspire students to succeed. We invite you to join by supporting current and future students' needs at USask.

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