Paul M. Wright, the Lane/Zimmerman Endowed Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education at NIU, has been named recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS).
Wright accepted the award last month at the AHS Alumni and Faculty Awards Dinner.
“Paul is deeply engaged in the fight to keep our children healthy for their whole lives. He’s striving to put them on the right path at a young age,” said Bo Fernhall, dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences. “His personal and professional lives could not be more closely aligned with the values of this college, and we’re thrilled to honor Paul as the AHS distinguished alumnus for 2014.”
Wright earned a master’s degree in kinesiology at AHS in 1998. He is now an internationally recognized expert in positive youth development through sport and physical activity.
After graduating from AHS, he earned his doctorate in curriculum design at UIC and joined the faculty of the University of Memphis. There he earned a Fulbright Research Award; served as co-principal investigator on a massive obesity-prevention grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and served as principal investigator in evaluating a national initiative to increase physical activity among children in Head Start centers.
Now at NIU, Wright holds the College of Education’s first endowed chair and directs NIU’s Physical Activity and Life Skills Group, which promotes healthy youth development. Last fall, he received a grant from the U.S. Department of State to develop the Youth Sport Coalition in Belize, which promotes youth development and social change through sport. This spring, he delivered lectures in Finland and Germany as a visiting Erasmus Mundus Scholar for the European Master’s Degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology.
Wright was born in Springfield, Ill. He is a graduate of Joliet (Ill.) Catholic High School and earned his bachelor of science in biology at UIC.
The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni by the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences. Established in 1987, it is presented to alumni who have attained outstanding success and national or international distinction in their chosen profession or life’s work.