newsId: 4EB51567-F3CE-BFD1-283F260FBA9C4EC0
Title: AU Appoints New Athletics Director
Author: University Communications
Abstract: Air Force Academy’s Billy Walker to lead AU’s Patriot League varsity teams and recreational sports.
Topic: Athletics
Publication Date: 02/28/2013

At a press conference today in Bender Arena, home of the Patriot League’s American University Eagles, AU President Neil Kerwin announced the appointment of Dr. William (Billy) Walker, deputy director of athletics at the United States Air Force Academy, as the university’s 14th director of athletics and recreation. Walker will join the AU staff in April.

“Billy Walker’s experiences, character and values are perfectly suited to build upon AU’s record of success in athletic competition and in the classroom. We were impressed by his demonstrated leadership as an administrator and his achievements as professor, department chair, and mentor of student-athletes,” said Kerwin. “We were especially struck by his belief that elite athletes can also be elite scholars—a value we embrace at this university.”

At the Academy, Walker most recently served as professor and head of the Physical Education Department and deputy director of athletics. He was responsible for day-to-day operations of the Academy's athletic department, including 190 employees, 23 NCAA Division I Olympic sports, and a multifaceted program involving physical education, cadet fitness testing and evaluation, and an intramural program for more than 4,000 cadets.

"I'm tremendously honored to be selected as American University's next director of athletics and recreation. President Kerwin's confidence in me is truly humbling, and I can't overstate how appreciative I am. Everywhere I've been on campus, I've met people who are part of an integrated team of professionals. I'm thrilled to be joining that team and I can't wait to get to work," said Walker.

In his various appointments at the United States Air Force Academy, he also served as a physical education instructor, assistant wrestling coach, and director of the Fitness Testing and Evaluation Division. In 1993, he earned the Academy's highest instructional award. In 2001, Walker was appointed by President Bush as the first Permanent Professor of Athletics and Physical Education.

A recognized expert in intercollegiate athletic issues, Walker has served as chair of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee and is a member of the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Committee. An expert panelist for the U.S. Department of Education and a key participant in the merger between two lacrosse leagues, he also spearheaded the formation of the Western Wrestling Conference in 2005, and still serves as its commissioner.  

A native of Wisconsin, Walker graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science. He earned a Master of Arts from California State University and his doctorate in physical education and sports administration at the University of Northern Colorado.  

Neil Kerwin and Billy Walker hold an American University jersey

A command pilot with nearly 3,000 hours of helicopter flight time, Walker’s professional responsibilities have included deputy command of the 89th Operations Group, an organization of 800 people responsible for directing the safe transport of the President of the United States, Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, members of Congress, foreign heads of state, and other dignitaries around the world. His roles at Andrews Air Force Base also included commander of the 1st Helicopter Squadron and experience as a military assistant to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Walker replaces former director of athletics Keith Gill, who left AU in December to become University of Richmond’s director of athletics.

American University’s intercollegiate athletics program includes more than 250 student-athletes competing in 16 varsity sports. A member of the Patriot League since 2001, AU teams have won 68 league titles and earned 43 berths into NCAA championship tournaments.

Last academic year, AU’s scholar-athletes earned a 3.37 average GPA, and the graduation rate of student-athletes who exhausted their eligibility was 97 percent. Additionally, four student-athletes earned the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, and 121 student-athletes were named to the Dean’s list.  

Tags: Alumni,Faculty,Media,Staff,Students,President,Athletics and Recreation,Recreational Sports and Fitness,Communications and Marketing,Media Relations,Athletics,Athletics, Recreational
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newsId: 35583895-5056-AF26-BE90FF15A6CE3DCA
Title: New Partnership Reinforces Focus on Student Wellness
Author: Patrick Bradley
Abstract: AU commits to increasing healthy eats, physical activity, and programming.
Topic: Achievements
Publication Date: 03/12/2015

Eat by Color

Jo-Ann Jolly spends a lot of time observing student eating habits in AU’s Terrace Dining Room, and she likes what she sees.

“When you look at everyone’s plates in TDR, they have multiple colors on it, which means they’re eating different fruits, vegetables, foods,” she explained. “When I go to other campus dining halls, you look at people’s plates and it’s all one color—brown. Or pizza-colored.”

As AU’s Aramark dietitian, Jolly sits at about eye-level with students’ plates as they pass by her desk in TDR. The colorful food options she sees haven’t happened by accident. AU’s dining has consistently received national attention for their vegetarian- and vegan-friendly offerings. A new commitment with the nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America—an arm of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign—is only further cementing that campus-wide focus on wellness.

Through its Healthier Campus Initiative, PHA invites universities to meet 23 guidelines developed by national experts around nutrition, physical activity, and student-centered wellness programming.

When Jolly first heard about the criteria, she knew AU already was a match. “AU does that, AU does that. If dining doesn’t do that, I’ll make it happen,” she said of first reading the requirements, which range from healthy meal options to having an accessible fitness area and marked walking trails on campus.

“I was just getting really excited,” Jolly recalled. “We might as well get credit for things we are already doing.”

Healthy Affirmation

As part of the commitment to PHA, Jolly attended the organization’s recent summit and new partner announcement in downtown Washington, D.C.

Director of the AU Wellness Center Tessa Telly and vice president of Campus Life Dr. Gail Hanson joined her, mingling with representatives from other universities and health organizations before enjoying a keynote address from the First Lady.

With her department overseeing wellness programming for the entire campus, Telly echoes Jolly’s sentiments on the new deal, while also noting the guidance it provides. “It just confirms that AU cares about student health,” she said. “For those objectives in there that are aspirational, it gives us a roadmap of what more we can do.”

Dr. Gail Hanson receives recognition on stage at the PHA summit

For all that AU does and plans to do better, PHA recognizes these moves as crucial to a healthier future for the nation.

“Colleges and universities like AU are in a unique position to help shape tomorrow’s leaders, whether they are teachers, coaches, policymakers, CEOs, moms or dads,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “By creating healthier food and physical activity environments today, campuses and universities are encouraging healthier habits that will carry over into tomorrow.”

Attention, Attention

The connection with PHA comes at a time of increased attention to issues of wellness on campus. Both Jolly and Telly sit on the newly formed Wellness Committee, which also brings together members from Recreational Sports and Fitness, the Library, and the Counseling Center for cross-campus collaborations.

Similarly, the university’s Stress Management Group is looking for ways to decrease stress and anxiety among students often swamped with studies, work, and internships.

“There’s focus and momentum. It’s a good time right now,” Telly explained. “We want to be able to say that, when students leave here, we were able to provide them with the skills and information to live happy, healthy lives beyond AU.”

Toward that skill building, Jolly leads tours through TDR and holds one-on-one nutritional counseling with students. Though not in her job description, high student demand has her teaching both healthy eating and cooking workshops in the residence halls.

For such an emphasis on health and wellness, AU stands out nationally as one of just several dozen higher ed institutions partnered with PHA.

“It’s cool to be a part of it, to be a part of this select group of people who are really changing things for the better,” Jolly said.

For her, AU particularly shines when considering the many pizza-covered plates she’s seen at other university dining halls. She looks forward to TDR’s summer renovations that will create a cafeteria even more focused on green, fresh options and increasingly more colorful student meals.

Tags: Campus Life,Campus News,Dining Services,Food and Dining,Health,Health Promotion,Housing & Dining Services,Office of Campus Life,Recreational Sports and Fitness,Wellness,Wellness Center
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newsId: 57E1C4FB-5056-AF26-BE060377DF38E0B1
Title: Top 5 Ways to De-Stress Now
Author: Patrick Bradley
Abstract: Last fall stress you out? De-stress early in the semester with these recs!
Topic: Student Life
Publication Date: 01/16/2015

Spend a lot of time feeling stressed out last semester? Anxious? Hands shaking, hard to sleep, sweating, worried about so much you couldn’t stand it? You’re not alone; other AU students may be feeling the exact same way. What can you do? So many things!

The university has loads of stress-reducing options for the entire AU community. So, consider making a New Year’s resolution to tame your stress early this semester before midterms and finals roll around. 

Apart from keeping your academics and physical health in order, check out some of these great options to bring some more zen into your life:

1. Counseling Center

AU’s Counseling Center now offers far more than one-on-one counseling sessions, though they still do plenty of those as well. On Thursday afternoons from 3-3:45 p.m., the center opens its doors for its Relaxation for Mind & Body drop-in group. No need to sign up in advance, just come by for guided meditations, breathing exercises, and visualizations to calm your nerves.

Student in counseling session

The Counseling Center also organizes group therapy on topics including stress management and self-insight. Of course, if you’re looking for a solo debrief with a counselor, they can help with that too. Just call or drop by to set up an intake appointment with one of their trained clinicians. For emergencies, the center also holds walk-in hours, weekdays from 3-5 p.m.

Additionally, the Counseling Center has a lot of helpful resources on their website, including a self-help library, anonymous mental health screenings, and videos that give you a glimpse into their center and services.

2. Fit to be Swell

Whether you’re into hitting the treadmill alone or hitting the court for an impromptu basketball game, Recreational Sports & Fitness has you covered for stress-reducing exercise. Interested in group exercise? Both the Jacobs and Cassell Fitness Centers host a number of group classes, ranging from yoga and Pilates to high intensity interval training and even a Bollywood dance cardio workout.

Group of yoga practitioners

Classes not your thing? Then hop into the pool for some laps, grab some free weights at the gym, or shoot some hoops in Bender. If you’re looking for something more competitive, try out any of the club and intramural sports coordinated through rec fit. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to find your endorphins up and stress levels down.

3. Meditation Stations

Hoping to bring your thoughts to a higher, calmer plane of existence? Then grab a cushion, sit down, and meditate! AU offers several, weekly meditation sessions, two of which take place in the Kay Spiritual Life Center main sanctuary. Tuesdays at noon offer Juniper-style meditation, with discussion and practice facilitated by AU staff and faculty.

Group meditates

On Wednesday afternoons from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Buddhist chaplain Bhante Katugastota Uparatana leads AU community members in traditional, Buddhist meditation that soothes the body and mind as well as the soul. Beginner and seasoned meditators alike are welcome at either session.

Alternately, the Jacobs Fitness Center now also holds weekly one-hour meditation sessions, Tuesdays at noon. Learn the principles and techniques of seated meditation along with walking meditation and mindfulness training.

4. The Flaming Cupcake

Aside from great meditation options, the Kay Spiritual Life Center offers a lot of what it’s named for—spirit. Need some religious guidance or prayer to find grounding? Kay houses chaplains from more than two dozen faith groups. Whether you’re Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or Secular Humanist, you’ll find someone to connect with for a heart-to-heart or soul-to-soul chat.

The Kay Center sanctuary with gospel choir at front and audience in pews

What’s more, the Quad’s “flaming cupcake” also hosts a number of student-led spiritual groups that cook up potluck dinners with a healthy serving of community—both of which are sure to fill anyone’s spirit. Plus, the center is just a downright peaceful place to be between breaks in classes for a quiet moment or for an evening religious service.

5. Holistic Centre

Outside of the stressors of class, work, and internships, college can present various other barriers to healthy living. If you’re struggling with issues around alcohol, drugs, nutrition, sexual health, or body image, the Wellness Center is here for you. Located just beyond the Student Health Center in McCabe Hall, the staff there focuses on a holistic approach to wellness.

The Wellness Cabana student crew

They have countless resources to help you with healthy choices and a more positive lifestyle so that you can perform to your optimal, stress-reduced self. Can’t visit their office? Then keep an eye out for their Wellness Cabana, bringing resources to you across campus.

Tags: Campus Life,Campus News,Counseling,Counseling Center,Dance,Featured News,Kay Spiritual Life Center,Office of Campus Life,Recreational Sports and Fitness,Wellness Center
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