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Texas A&M-Kingsville chair to receive prestigious award

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Dr. Chris Hearon, professor and chair of the health and kinesiology department at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, has received word that he has won the Jerry R. Thomas Distinguished Leadership Award from the American Kinesiology Association (AKA). Hearon will receive the award for the master’s degree level.

“I was actually at a loss for words when I got the call from AKA and as anyone who knows me will attest, it is a rare occurrence for me,” Hearon said. “So, clearly, I was taken aback a bit and was certainly not expecting that.”

 “This award for Dr. Hearon speaks volumes about the work he has done both in his department and on campus,” said Dr. Albert Ruiz, dean of the College of Education and Human Performance. “It seems just that the department that produced two AKA National Scholars would now produce a leadership award winner.”

“I am honored, but it also is humbling given the nature of the award,” Hearon added. “There are so many quality kinesiology administrators across the nation, and to have my career as a department chair chosen for this award is truly special. It is a testament to the outstanding faculty and students whom I have had the good fortune to manage and lead over the last two decades, both at Northeastern Illinois and here at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

A student from the health and kinesiology department at Texas A&M-Kingsville has won the National Scholar Award from the AKA two years in a row. Samantha Cantu was the first in 2015. She was followed by Joel Pena in 2016.

“Our faculty are key to the student accomplishments we have seen over the years. I am proud that we have been able to recruit exceptional faculty who are engaging and preparing our students to be competitive at all levels, with students from all over the state, region and nation,” he said. “The student accolades we have seen over the years in our department, serves as advertisement to potential students and has allowed us to continue to recruit elite students to our department. “

The Jerry R. Thomas Distinguished Leadership Award recognizes outstanding kinesiology-related administrative and leadership performance of an individual in an administrative role at an AKA member institution. The award is given independently for each level of membership based on the highest level of degree awarded.

The award recipients must have made significant contributions in several areas:

  • built innovative curricula to strengthen the undergraduate core of kinesiology;
  • expanded faculty and student research productivity focused on physical activity;
  • established partnerships and outreach activities that significantly impact the unit;
  • achieved success in obtaining new or renovated facilities for teaching and research;
  • inspired others to achieve at a high level; and
  • made significant changes that enhanced the effectiveness and efficiencies of programs and services. 

About Dr. Chris Hearon

In addition to being professor and chair of the health and kinesiology department, Hearon is coordinator of the exercise science program and the human performance laboratory. His areas of expertise include exercise physiology, applied statistics and exercise testing and prescription.

His research interests are human performance in environmental extremes, body composition and estimation practices.

Hearon earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Tech University and his doctorate from Louisiana State University. 

About the American Kinesiology Association (AKA)

The AKA is comprised of departments kinesiology or academic units that house kinesiology-related programs at nearly 200 colleges and universities across the nation. The Texas A&M-Kingsville department is one of 16 member departments in the state of Texas.


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