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National organization honors three HPER faculty

March 3, 2007

KALAMAZOO--The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance will honor three Western Michigan University faculty members during its 2007 National Convention and Exposition Tuesday through Saturday, March 13-17, in Baltimore.

WMU's AAHPERD honorees are Dr. Debra Berkey, professor and chair of health, physical education and recreation, and Dr. Suzan Ayers and Dr. Jiabei Zhang, both associate professors in HPER.

Dr. Debra Berkey has received the AAHPERD Honor Award, which recognizes meritorious contributions the membership categories "college and university" and "non-college and university." The honor goes to people of personal integrity who exemplify the spirit of devoted service to the professions and, by their leadership and industry, have made an outstanding and noteworthy contribution to the advancement of health, physical education, recreation or dance.

Berkey has been a WMU faculty member since 1985 and HPER chairperson since 1994. She focuses her research on Internet applications for educators and supervisors, sportsmanship in school athletics, recreation in urban settings for youth, professional preparation for teaching, and physical education curriculum. She earned a bachelor's degree from Slippery Rock State College in 1976 and master's and doctoral degrees from West Virginia University in 1982 and 1985, respectively.


Dr. Susan Ayers has been named an AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow. The designation is one of the most prestigious honors the consortium can bestow on its members. Fellow status recognizes contributions in the areas of research publications, presentations and professional service and signifies that recipients have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to research and a high level of achievement in their fields.

A WMU faculty member since 2004, Ayers specializes in assessment; fitness education; student cognition; survey design, construction and analysis; and cognitive test design, construction and analysis. She earned a bachelor's degree from Winthrop University in 1990, a master's degree from the University of Florida in 1995 and a doctoral degree from the University of South Carolina in 2001.


Dr. Jiabei Zhang has received the Adapted Physical Activity Professional Recognition Award from the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation, an AAHPERD affiliate. The award recognizes significant contributions to the promotion of physical activity to individuals with disabilities. Nominees must have provided significant contributions in the areas of professional organization leadership or scholarly publications or made a significant mark on the lives of others.

A WMU faculty member since 2002 and an AAHPERD research consortium fellow since 2001, Zhang specializes in special or adapted physical education. He earned a master's degree from China's Wuhan Institute of Physical Education in 1985, a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in 1990 and a doctoral degree from the University of Georgia in 1994.

AAHPERD is an alliance of five national associations and six district associations that provides a comprehensive and coordinated array of resources, support and programs to help members improve their skills and, thereby, further the health and well-being of the American public.

It is the largest organization of professionals supporting and assisting those involved in physical education, leisure, fitness, dance, health promotion and education and all specialties related to achieving a healthy lifestyle.


Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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