Paul Wright named College of Education’s first endowed professorship

Paul Wright

Paul Wright

Paul Wright, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KNPE), has been named to the Elizabeth C. Lane, Ph.D., and M. Nadine Zimmerman, Ph.D., Endowed Kinesiology and Physical Education Professorship – the first endowed professorship in the College of Education.

Wright came to NIU in the fall of 2011, and among his many accomplishments is his role in the university obtaining a $12 million federal grant program funded by the Office of Head Start. The grant program promotes physical activity and outdoor play at Head Start programs across the country. He is a Fulbright Scholar and internationally recognized expert on positive youth development through physical activity.

“I am truly honored to hold this endowed professorship and to have the opportunity to promote the legacy of Drs. Lane and Zimmerman,” Wright said. “This endowment ensures that their commitment to the field and the department of KNPE will live on. It is a particular honor for me to be the holder of the first endowed professorship in KNPE and in the College of Education.”

Lane, as part of her estate plan, and Zimmerman, now retired and living in DeKalb, donated funds to the university to establish the endowed professorship within KNPE. The professors were friends and colleagues who shared a long and celebrated career within KNPE, and their gift ensures that legacy will continue for years: The endowment’s intent is to provide funds to help recruit and retain top KNPE educators.

“Dr. Zimmerman has said that good teachers attract good students, so I am certain Paul Wright is the ideal candidate to launch this legacy,” said La Vonne Neal, dean of the College of Education.

Wright said he is committed to using this opportunity to increase the visibility and reputation of KNPE, the College of Education and NIU by continuing his focus on scholarship related to positive youth development through physical activity.

“Through publications, presentations and collaborations at the national and international levels, I hope to represent our institution and this professorship well,” he said. “At the same time, I will strive to provide high quality, engaged learning experiences for my students. This was always a core commitment of Drs. Lane and Zimmerman.”

Wright said in addition to his own scholarship and teaching, he believes the intent of this professorship is to benefit the department as whole.

“I will be working with my department chair, Dr. Paul Carpenter, and my colleagues to organize activities that support and elevate the level of scholarship throughout the department,” he said.

Some of Wright’s ideas in support of that goal include hosting high profile visitors to present and meet with faculty, fostering collaborations with other departments and the surrounding community, and organizing writing retreats for KNPE faculty and graduate students to work on publishing their research and/or writing external grant applications.

“I am hoping that my efforts will contribute to the growing reputation and level of scholarly productivity in KNPE,” he said. “I see these as keys to recruiting and retaining top faculty in our department so we can continue aspiring to honor the legacy and aspirations set forth by Drs. Lane and Zimmerman.”

By Kate Braser

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