To discover and apply scientific information related to food, nutrition, physical activity, and health behavior to optimize public well-being.
Our Facilities and Resources
To better serve students in the pursuit of their career goals, the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences was formed by merging two departments with long and distinguished histories at the University of Nebraska: Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics and Health and Human Performance.
Today, by combining expertise in the areas of nutrition and health education, dietetics, community nutrition and health promotion, exercise physiology, athletic training, sports nutrition, biochemical and molecular nutrition, culinary sciences, and food service administration, NHS provides a comprehensive approach to the health and wellness of individuals as well as the communities they live in.
Nutrition and Health Sciences can be found on:
- Ruth Leverton Hall
- Gwendolyn A. Newkirk Human Sciences Building
- Filley Hall
- Carolyn Pope Edwards Hall
- Scarlet Hotel (Fall 2025)
The Department of Health and Human Performance was established when the Board of Regents voted to require physical training for female students as a partial equivalent to the military drill required of male students. Professional preparation of teachers of physical education began later in the 1890s.
The University established the "School of Domestic Science" with Chemistry Professor Rosa Bouton named as its director. Domestic Chemistry courses covered subjects such as food analysis, sanitation, and contaminants in food. Housed in Mechanic Arts Hall on city campus, Dr. Bouton served as the school's sole instructor with eleven newly enrolled students.
The two-year program was described by the University bulletin this way: "To train the mind and develop character in the kitchen as well as in the laboratory. Special attention is given to the principles of cooking, economical methods of cooking, as well as methods to render food nutritious, palatable, and attractive."
The Board of Regents elected to construct a new building on the Farm Campus to house laboratories and classrooms needed for the newly named Department of Home Economics. Named "The Women's Building" during planning and construction, it provided dormitory rooms for 40 women and included laboratories and classrooms for Home Economics instruction. By 1906, the program had been lengthened to four years, leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Construction of the new Home Economics Building was completed with classes beginning that summer.
Home Economics became a department within the College of Agriculture. New courses included clothing construction and design, dietetics, home decoration, household administration, and teacher training with practice teaching.
Construction of the Coliseum was completed at a cost of $435,000. The facility originally housed several offices including the Men's Athletic Department and Men's Physical Education Department.
Dr. Ruth Leverton returned to her alma mater to become an assistant professor in the School of Home Economics at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. With her hiring, Food and Nutrition quickly began to emerge as a research-based field. During this same period, the Nebraska Agricultural Experimental Station was seeking an innovative leader to foster human nutrition research on campus and Dr. Leverton was just the person to do so.
With limited space on the College of Agriculture campus, Dr. Leverton was given a small laboratory in the meat science building. While she had the necessary competencies to handle her work, the development of resources would prove to be a long struggle. Knowing her own potential, Dr. Leverton lobbied the university for a new research facility to specifically house nutrition laboratories and to accommodate nutrition research.
Funding was approved by the Board of Regents for the establishment of a new Food and Nutrition building on Ag Campus. Excavation for the building began over Thanksgiving vacation that November. "This building was planned to house the cafeteria kitchen, cateria, club and private dining rooms, fountain room, and a comfortable lounge together with necessary offices and bathrooms."
Construction of the new Food and Nutrition Building was completed as of March 12, 1943. Designed to house more than just food and nutrition laboratories, the building included a cafeteria, dining rooms, a kitchen, offices, classrooms, and research facilities.
This window, set over the main entrance and still in place today, features the Betty Lamp, a symbol representing the field of Home Economics:
Like other war era buildings on the University's campuses, and with the nation in the midst of World War II, the Food and Nutrition Building was assumed by the government and appropriated for the war effort shortly after it was constructed. It was initially used as dormitory and classrooms for Specialized Training, Assignment, and Reclassification (STARS) members, a special training branch of the U.S. Government which channeled new military recruits to appropriate education situations. The University of Nebraska was one of only three colleges in the United States designated to assess and assign recruits on to any of 220 higher education sites.
Over the course of two years, more than 13,000 men from the United States, as well as other countries of the world, lived in the Food and Nutrition Building before being reassigned to study engineering, foreign languages, personnel psychology, dentistry, and medicine in the U.S. Army's Specialized Training Program (ASTP).
That fall, the Food and Nutrition Building saw its first "civilian personnel" as occupants moved into the third floor. This location served as the new headquarters for Dr. Leverton's research group and staff.
University Chancellor C. S. Boucher and the Board of Regents authorized the furnishing and equipment of a recreation center in the new Food and Nutrition Building. The center included a general lounge and reading room, a fountain, an all-purpose room for meeting and an annex to the fountain as a dance hall, a record room, two small comittee rooms or organization offices, and check stands.
The Men's Physical Education Building was constructed on the SW corner of 14th and W Streets.
The cafeteria and foods laboratories became operational within the Food and Nutrition Building.
Cafeteria remodeling and reorganization took place at the Food and Nutrition building in order to provide meals for students living in the new residence halls on the College of Ag Campus.
Construction was completed on the Women's Physical Education Building at 14th and Vine and the building was dedicated that November. It featured two gyms, a swimming pool, dance studio, and locker rooms.
Legislature appropriated $700,000 for remodeling of the Food and Nutrition building to include offices and specialized laboratories for Teaching, Research, Extension for Human Development and the Family as well as Food and Nutrition. Facilities would also be added for live-in subjects, dormitory space, and a kitchen/dining area.
In January, the Food and Nutrition building was vacated and a complete renovation began.
By that fall, The newly remodeled Food and Nutrition building was ready for occupancy by faculty of Food and Nutrition as well as Human Development and the Family.
The Women's Physical Education Building at 14th and Vine was renovated to add classrooms, computer labs, and office for instructors. In honor of UNL's physical education pioneer Mabel Lee, the building was renamed in her honor on May 7, 1977.
With the opening of the new East Campus Union, space became available within the Food and Nutrition building to offer students laboratory experiences in institution management and quantity food preparation.
The faculty of the Department of Food and Nutrition submitted a proposal to rename the Food and Nutrition building in honor of Dr. Leverton. Upon the proposal's acceptance, the Food and Nutrition building was officially renamed Ruth Leverton Hall.
Dr. Leverton was on-site to attend the May 6th dedication ceremony as a part of UNL's Alumni Day Program.
Leverton Hall was renovated to include updated air handling systems, redesigned building space, and completion of the new Biomedical Research Core (BORC) lab.
Mabel Lee Hall was demolished in the spring to make way for Carolyn Pope Edwards Hall, the new home to the College of Education and Human Sciences. Upon completion in August 2022, the building featured new classrooms, meeting spaces, offices, labs, and a 400-seat auditorium.
Construction of Carolyn Pope Edwards Hall was completed over the summer and by early September, Dr. Terry Housh and the Human Performance and Body Composition labs were relocated to the new building from Neihardt Hall.
Hospitality, Restaurant, Tourism Management (HRTM) is slated to relocate to the Scarlet Hotel on Innovation Campus. This new location will include new academic spaces, office suites, as well as a commercial teaching kitchen.
Curriculum was changed to place more emphasis on professional training such as dietetics, institutional management, and teaching. Also included for the first time were courses intended primarily for graduate students.
The Division of Food and Nutrition was established.
Approval was received from the American Dietetic Association for a dietetics program.
Master's degree program approved.
Dietetics internship program initiated.
After years of pursuing independent existences, the men's and women's physical education departments merge to form a single "Department of Physical Education and Recreation".
The Nebraska Center for Health Education, previously affiliated with the University Health Center, was added to the department to form a new "School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation".
The department is renamed "Nutritional Science and Dietetics".
The "School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation" was renamed "Department of Health and Human Performance".
Community Nutrition and Health Promotion established as a graduate specialization.
The "Department of Nutritional Science and Dietetics" and "Department of Health and Human Performance" are merged and renamed "Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences".
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Training Program received initial accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). (In 2006, accreditation was transferred to the newly formed Commission on the Accreditation of Athletic Training Education [CAATE]).
Nutrition and Exercise approved as an undergraduate program.
Hospitality, Restaurant, and Tourism Management established as an undergraduate program.
Community Health and Wellness approved as an undergraduate program.
Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition established as a graduate specialization.
Hospitality Management established as a graduate specialization.
Professional Studies in Dietetics (PSD) established as a graduate specialization.
The Master's in Athletic Training degree was established and the program nationally accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).
NHS Department Chairs
Our Research and Achievements
Establishment of the Nebraska Center for Prevention of Obesity Diseases through Dietary Molecules (NPOD).
Fayrene Hamouz recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nebraska Restaurant Association.