Marie R. Liba

Fellow# 205

National Academy of Kinesiology

Dr. Marie R. Liba, elected to the Academy in 1970 (Fellow #205), passed away in October, 2018 in Vista, California.  Dr. Liba was born in Chicago, IL on January 9, 1921.  She received a BPE from the American College of Physical Education in 1940, followed by a BS from Wittenberg College in 1942. She subsequently attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, obtaining an MS degree in 1949 and a Ph.D. in 1956 in the Department of Physical Education for Women, soon to become the Department of Kinesiology.  Dr. Liba held teaching positions at Wittenberg College, Morningside College, Valpraiso University, with the primary portion of her academic career at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, rising to the position of Professor in 1965.  She ended her career as the Chairman of the Department of Physical Education at San Jose State University in the mid-70’s.

Professor Liba’s area of expertise would now be called Quantitative Measurement.  She began her career at UW as a generalist, although her interest focused on the quantification of measures of sports skills.  Her work involved kinesiological analyses of these skills, leading to setting standards of performance.  These scholarly investigations were rarely published, as during the 50’s and early 60’s, it was not typical for many female scholars to publish their work in research journals.  These women were indeed scholars, but did not always choose to submit the results of their scholarly investigations for publication as the major means of sharing their contributions to the body of knowledge in their areas of specialization.  They tended to share the results of research with students and colleagues, and at state and national conventions via oral presentations.

Professor Liba was an independent thinker and was able to demonstrate her own expertise in the area of quantitative measurement, especially in interpreting kinesiological data.  She was a member of many professional organizations, for example, the American Educational Research Association, the American Statistical Association, the National Council of Measurement in Education, and the Psychometric Society.  She served a term as Associate Editor of the Research Quarterly.

Professor Liba became a giant in the field of Quantitative Measurement, as applied in Kinesiology, a term that defines measurement theory as applicable in many fields of study.  She built her knowledge framework upon basic concepts being espoused in physical education in the 1960’s, but based on measurement theory.  She understood the need to apply more sophisticated statistical techniques in utilizing measurement theory in analyzing quantitative data.  She and her students realized the importance of using multivariate statistics in studying large data sets.  For example, her doctoral students took courses in multivariate statistics, such as factor analysis, cluster analysis, and statistical analyses of data clusters in space.  Dr. Liba studied theories in quantitative measurement by first recognizing that measurement concepts and practices, to be defensible in as the field of measurement, were minimalistic views in the past.  In the early days of Kinesiology, measurement was viewed as a tool, rather than having a theoretical base.  Dr. Liba understood the importance of basing practice on theory, and passed this on to her students.  However, in the academic area of Kinesiology, many scholars were not aware of the theories underlying measurement practices.

  Many of these women, as well as a number of men, were schooled in the development of administrative skills, and, indeed, a number of  administrators in those days were outstanding!!  In spite of the fact that Professor Liba’s primary appointment was at a major research university, she rarely published in research journals.  But she taught her students to do so…to write books, to conduct research and publish the results...  to add to the body of knowledge in their area of specialization.  She saw that her students understood their heritage, as graduate students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Overall, she accomplished much that other prominent women in the field were unable to do during that time period.  Clearly, she was one of the pioneers in the area of quantitative measurement in Kinesiology throughout her career in academe.

The Academy mourns the passing of Dr. Marie R. Liba, Fellow #205.

Submitted by:


Margaret J. Safrit, Fellow #254

Anne E. Atwater, Fellow #313