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Enhancing Graduate Student Research, Recruitment, and Retention via a Summer Research Experience

Jared A. Russell

Programs that provide student research experiences at the undergraduate level are an impactful means of recruiting and preparing students for graduate academic programs. Notably, such programs, when combined with faculty mentorship, exposure to graduate-school-level academic curricula, and socialization experiences, are considered crucial to the effective recruitment and retention of students from diverse cultural backgrounds into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-oriented graduate academic programs. This work outlines the strategic efforts of Auburn University’s School of Kinesiology to enhance its graduate student diversity recruitment and retention processes. Highlighted are the School of Kinesiology’s goals and guiding principles related to diversity and inclusion initiatives. A detailed description of the centerpiece of this effort, the Future Scholars-Summer Research Bridge Program, is provided. Additionally, related Future Scholars-Summer Research Bridge Program topics are discussed, including securing donor support, aligning the program with institutional strategic goals, forming institutional or academic program partnerships, and addressing administrative and logistical challenges.

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Creating a Climate of Organizational Diversity: Models of Best Practice

NiCole R. Keith and Jared A. Russell

This article describes the characteristics of diversity within academia and professional organizations in general and specifically within Kinesiology departments and Kinesiology-related organizations. While other types of diversity exist, this article refers to diversity in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, age, physical capability, socioeconomic background, and/or sexual orientation. Two Kinesiology departments, within the context of their universities, in two different regions of the United States are presented as models of best practice to improve institutional diversity. Also presented are one detailed example and several general examples of methods by which Kinesiology-related professional organizations have developed intentional strategies to improve diversity in membership and leadership. Presented models could, at least in part, be used by administrators and leaders to improve diversity within academic institutions and professional organizations.

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Demonstrating Equitable and Inclusive Crisis Leadership in Higher Education

Jared A. Russell, Leslie D. Gonzales, and Harald Barkhoff

Academic leadership faces tremendous pressure to build sustainable environments that demonstrate a commitment to the principles of inclusive excellence. Currently, the convergence of dual global crises—the COVID-19 pandemic and reckoning of systemic violence and racism toward individuals from historically marginalized and oppressed groups—has led to prioritizing impactful inclusive excellence leadership processes that address justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. However, too often, in times of crisis, the strategic prioritizing and, more importantly, allocation of resources to support inclusive excellence initiatives are seen as secondary, tangential, or nonessential to the core operational mission of academic units. In this article, the authors discuss the unique realities, challenges, and opportunities academic leaders face when leading an equitable and inclusive academic workplace and culture during and after a crisis. The authors provide fundamental inclusive excellence and justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion terminology and definitions. In addition, the authors provide attributes, behaviors, and action steps for demonstrating equitable and inclusive crisis leadership.

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Recognizing the Impact of Bias in Faculty Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement Processes

Jared A. Russell, Sheri Brock, and Mary E. Rudisill

Bias, an automatic—usually unconscious and unintentional—inclination, preference, or favoring of an individual or group over another, is an inherent aspect of an individual’s academic leadership and decision-making processes. Bias alone is not a detriment to building an inclusive and supportive environment for faculty. However, oftentimes an academic unit leader’s biases result in the justification, rationalization, and facilitation of exclusionary processes and practices toward faculty, particularly those from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. This article discusses the impact of bias, specifically implicit bias, on academic leadership. Moreover, the impact of a leader’s biases toward diversity attributes (e.g., gender, sexual orientation/affinity, age, ethnicity, race) of faculty are highlighted. Specifically, key areas of academic leadership are explored: faculty recruitment (hiring), retention (evaluation), and advancement (promotion and tenure). Recommendations, promising practices, and strategies for minimizing the impact of implicit bias are provided.

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Administrative Strategies for Delivering High-Quality Instruction in a University-Based Physical Activity and Wellness Program

Sheri J. Brock, Jared A. Russell, Brenna Cosgrove, and Jessica Richards

The School of Kinesiology at Auburn University has a large Physical Activity and Wellness Program (PAWP) that services approximately 8,000 students each academic year. The roughly 470 courses offered annually include aquatics, leisure, martial arts, fitness, and individual- and team-sport offerings taught predominantly by graduate teaching assistants. Overall, Auburn University has experienced a great deal of success in providing a PAWP program that students enjoy and often wish to repeat although these courses are not required as compulsory credit. Delivering high-quality undergraduate educational experiences is paramount to the overall instructional mission of the School of Kinesiology. This paper outlines administrative strategies to ensure that PAWP instructors are prepared and supported in their instructional responsibilities.

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Providing Access to Physical Activity: The Intersection of Teaching, Outreach, and Scholarship

Danielle D. Wadsworth, Mary E. Rudisill, Jared A. Russell, James R. McDonald, and David D. Pascoe

The School of Kinesiology at Auburn University unites teaching, research, and outreach efforts to provide access to physical activity for local, statewide, and global communities. This paper provides a brief overview of the programs as well as strategies to mobilize efforts for physical activity outreach within an academic setting. School-wide efforts include youth initiatives, physical activity assessments offered through our TigerFit program, and the United States Olympic Team Handball training center. All programs provide service-learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students as well as outreach outcomes. Furthermore, the programs provide a platform for scholarship in the form of publications, partnerships for grant submissions, and student research projects. Merging teaching, outreach, and scholarship has provided longevity for the programs, thereby establishing long-term social ties to the community and providing continued access to physical activity to promote public health.

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A Constant Balancing Act: Delivering Sustainable University Instructional Physical Activity Programs

Sheri J. Brock, Christina Beaudoin, Mark G. Urtel, Lisa L. Hicks, and Jared A. Russell

The goal of university instructional physical activity programs (IPAPs) is to provide quality instruction through best practices to encourage college students to lead healthy and physically active lifestyles. As IPAPs have continued to decline due to enrollment and budgetary concerns, the importance of quality and sustainability has become particularly paramount. Furthermore, it is imperative to the existence of IPAPs that we strive to learn and share with each other in order to independently survive, but more essentially to flourish collectively, as we are better together. In our varied experience, while some IPAPs face unique challenges, many obstacles are common, regardless of institution size and composition. This paper will offer the perspectives of four strikingly different colleges and universities in their quest to navigate challenges in delivery, maintain and support quality instruction, and advocate for IPAPs.

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Inclusive Excellence in Kinesiology Units in Higher Education

Matthew T. Mahar, Harsimran Baweja, Matthew Atencio, Harald Barkhoff, Helen Yolisa Duley, Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, ZáNean D. McClain, Misty Pacheco, E. Missy Wright, and Jared A. Russell

The aim of this paper is to emphasize the value of developing cultural awareness in kinesiology students to prepare them to enter the workforce in a world where the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are evolving. The authors provide examples of sustained and impactful practices from three kinesiology units in higher education that have been recognized with the American Kinesiology Association Inclusive Excellence Award. The case studies demonstrate that institutional support for inclusive excellence is instrumental in development of sustainable experiences. Kinesiology leaders can demonstrate commitment to inclusive excellence by supporting faculty who conduct teaching, research, and service activities that meet their institution’s inclusive excellence goals. Other areas where kinesiology units can influence student development include curriculum, student engagement activities, university and community partnerships, and leadership for inclusive excellence.