5 Questions with New Department Head

What attracted you to the position of Department Head of Health and Exercise Studies at NC State?

I’ve always been intrigued and inspired by effective leadership. From Earnest Shackleton on the adventure front to Yvon Chinaurd and Jim Goodnight on the business front. I’ve been associated with the department since my undergraduate work in the early 1990s when the HES (then PE) requirement was 4 credits to graduate. I had a life changing experience due to taking the activity classes. I truly believed then, and still today, that what I learned, and now teach, is a life skill and a life style. I’m indebted to this department and what we do and want it to continue for at least another 91 years (the department was established in 1923).

What will your first actions be this first fall semester?

I’d like to really focus on investing in us, the faculty. I realize more and more each day that the University is truly a business. As instructors, or employees, we need to give what our customers, students, pay for, which is a top-notch education from NC State. When they leave our classes and earn a grade, it needs to mean something. They could have gone to many different schools, but they chose us and we need to hold them to the high standard they expect. The relationship between the instructor and student is symbiotic. If the instructor is happy and energized when they enter the classroom, then it feeds the students’ energy level. The positive word of mouth about what we teach and do is priceless. Creating a community and culture where the faculty have the resources they need (financially and administratively) to do the best job they can do will positively impact the students and classes.

You used to be a full-time Teaching Associate Professor of Outdoor Leadership and have now transitioned into an administrative role. How will you handle this transition and what are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

I think it is important to keep an active role as an educator. For me, remaining in the classroom in some capacity is a must. I will always be an educator/facilitator at heart and keeping that outlet will help balance the duties of department head. I also think it is important to carve out time each day for some sort of adventure activity since that is what got me inspired to teach. Whether that be a quick workout at the rock climbing traverse wall or a quick mountain bike ride. The benefits of a good balance between work and play are important for all of us to keep a healthy mind, body and spirit.

Where do you see the HES Department in five years?

There are many great things on the horizon for our department. In the short term there will be upgrades and renovations to the facilities we teach in and that will greatly benefit all users of the facilities. I know there will be shared sacrifices for a while, but the end result will benefit the greater good. Building on our four current minors (Outdoor Leadership, Sports Science, Health Education and Coaching Education) and our growing program, Emergency Medicine, while continuing to assess the value of Distance Education courses, will help create a unique niche for our department and allow us to continue our basic instruction program of activity classes (close to 70 different classes), which is the foundation of our department.

What would you like faculty and staff to know about you that they may not have heard?

I love to cook and adventure with my wife Sevanne, our 21-month old son Anders and four-legged kid Slinky, but I think most people might be surprised to know that I have a huge passion for music and was a professional musician for over 10 years in several traveling bands. We traveled mostly the east coast in a time when many NC and SC bands became pretty big and famous. I was fortunate to share the same stage with bands like Hootie and the Blowfish, Edwin McCain, The Connells, The Samples and Dillon Fence. I was intrigued by the business end of the music business and saw many people around me rocket to stardom and riches beyond their wildest dreams. It humbled me and really taught me that at the end of the day every person has the same basic needs. No one person is more important than another. Although I don’t play out nearly as much, I try and find time to play each day. It is a great creative outlet. Songwriting, cooking and teaching are all very similar in the sense that they all carry a part of you and allow you to connect with others in a positive way.