R. Tait McKenzie


Photo credit: University Archives

R. Tait McKenzie, a Canadian-born sculptor, started out his career as Penn’s first professor of physical education in 1904. McKenzie’s belief in the beneficial relationship between physical activity and academics became part of Penn’s core curriculum, and his 1909 book, “Exercise in Education and Medicine,” helped launch physical education programs across the United States. He also developed an interest in rehabilitation and became the first professor of physical therapy at any university in the country.

McKenzie’s artistic career began after he failed to find suitable sculptures to use in anatomy lectures. With the old masters as his guide, he traveled to Europe to study the craft. McKenzie also mastered the art of the medallion and relief, creating his most acclaimed medallion, “Joy of Effort,” (pictured) for the 1912 Olympics, where it was set into the wall of the great stadium at Stockholm.

For more on this and other notable moments in Penn’s history, visit the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.

Originally published on March 15, 2007