Greetings from the Chair

May 2017

Mike Deschenes

Oh, How They Grow Up So Fast!! (sorry to sound like your parents!)

 Hello all Kinesiology & Health Sciences alumni, it is time for your latest update from the ‘Burg. The big news for this spring of 2017 update is that this past weekend (5/13-14/2017) graduation ceremonies and celebrations were held on campus. On Saturday, the campus-wide graduation took place in William & Mary Hall. This year’s commencement speaker was the renowned newsman and writer Walter Isaacson who in the past has served as CEO and chairman of CNN, and is now president of the Aspen Institute, whose goal is "fostering enlightened leadership, the appreciation of timeless ideas and values, and open-minded dialogue on contemporary issues". Mr. Isaacson challenged the College’s graduates to not only pursue their passions in life, but to also connect those passions to larger issues confronting society and the world. Moreover, he emphasized the need to be not only successful people, but also good people, and to strive to positively affect the lives of as many as possible. Sounds like good advice to me, especially the part about trying to be good people!

 On Sunday, we had our departmental ceremony at Trinkle Hall where we handed out more than 120 diplomas to graduates of our department along with a few others from Neuroscience. Apparently, the Neuroscience grads wanted to attend the graduation proceedings of a very student friendly department (also, the fact that Prof Looft-Wilson is the director of Neuroscience may have had a role). We were blessed with terrific weather on Sunday and everything went without a hitch. This can be directly attributed to the hard work and planning put in by Ms. Venus Spencer, our Office Manager, working along with Mr. Chris Wilson, the department’s Administrative Coordinator. Thanks to both of you for making this whole day work so smoothly!!

This year’s Major of the Year award went to Mr. Matt Adan by a unanimous vote by the faculty. I know Matt well as I have been fortunate enough to have him work in my lab throughout his career here at William & Mary. He is an outstanding student and a young man. Incredibly, he graduate with a perfect GPA of 4.0 while taking the challenging pre-med curriculum. Matt will be attending medical school at Columbia University in the fall; I’m sure he’ll do great things there, too and make us all proud! Here is a link to his speech. Pictures of this year’s graduation are now on our website.

 Unfortunately, one member of our faculty was not able to attend graduation at Trinkle Hall. Sarah Menefee who is a Lecturer in the Public Health track, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl just four days earlier. No one could blame Sarah for wanting to spend Mother’s Day with little Barrett Lauryn Menefee. Both Sarah and Barrett are doing just fine, by the way (well, maybe just a little sleep deprived).

 Another bit of exciting news came our way, also just a few days before graduation. The Dean has approved our request to conduct a search to identify a tenure-eligible Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences to begin with us in the fall of 2018. Doing these searches involves a lot of work, but it will be well worth it as we have been trying for years to more formally expand our footprint in nutrition by bringing on board someone who has earned his/her Ph.D. in Nutrition. This new addition to our faculty will be expected to add new courses to our curriculum and to start an active research agenda in human nutrition. I think we all see this as a very positive step in the right direction for our department. Recall also that we’ll have two new Assistant Professors in the Public Health track, Drs. Carrie Dolan and Iyabo Obasanjo, starting with us this fall. Things are really looking up for us!!

 While our department is getting bigger, we obviously are getting better, too. Five of our majors were selected this past spring for induction into the elite academic community of Phi Beta Kappa. Congratulations to Priya Brito, Maia Mandel, Kathryn (Katie) McElheny, Jessica Lee, and Caitlin Womack. This is quite an achievement, and one that will stay with you for life. When including our other two PBK inductees from the fall semester (Matt Adan, Rachel Rapp) seven of our majors were selected in a single academic year. We have never had this recognition from PBK in the past. Again, this is something that we all can, and should, be proud of.

 I guess that’s about it for now from this side of things. Hope all is well on your end, and remember that we always like to hear what is new with you, so please feel free to post updates of your own.

And remember that you can always get a very current take on what is going on in Kinesiology & Health Sciences (Chris Wilson does a great job maintaining our website) by visiting our website.

Have a great summer,

Michael R. Deschenes, PhD
Chair and Professor, Dept of Kinesiology & Health Sciences
McLeod Tyler Professor of Integrated Health Sciences
College of William & Mary