(This story originally appeared in NIU Today.)
SHAPE America (Society of Health and Physical Educators) presented its Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award to NIU’s Paul M. Wright, who holds the Lane/Zimmerman Endowed Professorship in Kinesiology and Physical Education.
Wright was recognized April 7 during SHAPE America’s 131st National Convention & Expo in Minneapolis.
SHAPE America presents the Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award annually in recognition of one higher education faculty member for his or her efforts to mentor undergraduate and/or graduate students pursuing a degree in physical education, sport, kinesiology or exercise science.
Criteria for the award include:
- serves as an outstanding role model of professionalism by modeling appropriate professional behavior and positive professional standards;
- encourages student involvement in professional opportunities, such as including students in service projects or research activities, supporting student membership in professional organizations, nurturing student contributions to professional organizations/meetings or enabling student attendance at professional meetings; and
- provides exemplary academic and professional preparation advisement, is available to students for discussion and meetings and may serve as faculty advisor/supporter to student majors club or honorary projects.
“One of the most profound impacts we can have as educators is our influence on young professionals,” says SHAPE America President Stephen Jefferies, professor emeritus at Central Washington University. “This award honors an individual who exceeds in instilling passion and professionalism in all of his students. We are thrilled that Paul Wright represents SHAPE America in such a caring, giving and professional manner.”
For the past five years, Wright has directed the Physical Activity and Life Skills Group, which promotes healthy youth development.
His primary line of research, over the past 20 years, relates to the design, implementation and evaluation of physical activity programs that promote positive youth development and teach life skills. In particular, he is regarded internationally as a leading scholar on the Teaching Personal and Social Responsibility model.
For his work in this area and related work on obesity prevention, Wright has received a Fulbright Research Award as well as grants and evaluation contracts from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Association for Sport and Physical Education and SHAPE America.
Among his many accomplishments is receiving a grant in 2013 from the U.S. Department of State to develop a Youth Sport Coalition in Belize to promote youth development and social change through sport. In summer 2014, he delivered lectures in Finland and Germany as a visiting Erasmus Mundus Scholar for the European Master’s Degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology.
That same year, he also received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), which is the highest honor bestowed upon alumni by the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences.
In addition to Wright’s research, he teaches several courses in kinesiology and serves as a faculty adviser to graduate students. He is also the director of a sport leadership program at a local middle school which serves as a teaching site for graduate students train in a real-life context.
Wright received all of his academic degrees from UIC, including his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, his master’s degree in kinesiology and his Ph.D. in education with a specialization in curriculum and instruction.