Alumni and Friends

Alumni and Friends

Greetings from the Department Head

Dr. Barry Braun

Here is the bottom line; after one year, I’m still exuberant about having taken the position as head of Health and Exercise Science. The department is in great shape; with much of that success built on a strong foundation attributable to great faculty and staff and far-sighted leadership by former department head Dr. Gay Israel. The “message from the department head” would typically be to trumpet our many recent accomplishments; making sure I express the appropriate humility in maintaining that all these great things happened with very little input from me. And it’s true, terrific things are happening; we are teaching almost 1,000 students/week in our brand new teaching facility, we have completed an exciting restructure of the entire undergraduate curriculum to make it serve the needs of our students for the next 10 years, we’ve had some big successes in obtaining research grants, our faculty and graduate students are winning awards for teaching, research and outreach, new faculty and staff hires are enhancing our ability to provide transformative teaching and groundbreaking research. And it’s also true that much of that success does not directly result from any magical formula I sprinkled into the water coolers (I’m working on that).

But that’s not what I want to talk about. The lifeblood of this department is not “stuff” but the core belief that people matter more than programs or curriculum or grants or classrooms or awards. Our undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, alumni and “friends of the department” are the fibers that bind us together and the way we treat each other determines our success. Anyone who spends time here invariably remarks that we seem like a family, and that is absolutely true. Meaning we celebrate each other triumphs but call each other out when we aren’t pulling our weight. We set very high standards for ourselves and each other but we are the first to offer a helping hand or kind word if that is what’s needed. At a time when some college campuses are being divided by a failure to communicate and to disagree in a respectful and constructive way, we are not. We are headed relentlessly upward and forward; but frequently looking back to make sure nobody gets left behind.

Of course, we can always do better. Lately I’ve been thinking that strong families often have events where they get everyone together in one place at the same time. The idea of something like that in HES started to percolate in my mind and has brewed into a plan to bring the department together; something like a hybrid between a family reunion and a town meeting, where we can publicly share our triumphs, air our discontents and voice our ideas for improvement. It will take place in the middle of the spring semester and we are currently looking for the best time and (the hard part) a physical space that can hold almost 1500 undergraduate and graduate students, staff and faculty! No matter how difficult the logistics, this is absolutely worth doing and to channel Dr. Israel’s mantra (no whining; just get it done) we will make it happen!

Please contact me by phone: (970) 491-7875 or e-mail:

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Physical activity, wellness, and disease prevention concepts are the main focus of this department. The curriculum focuses on health throughout the life span and addreses prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation.