Kinesiology faculty member creates endowment for students in service

Marjorie S. Miller
March 30, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A longtime faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology at Penn State has created an endowment to recognize and encourage exceptional student leadership, community engagement and service beyond the classroom.

Created by Senior Lecturer Robert “Bob” Ricketts, the Robert D. Ricketts Student Leadership Award in the College of Health and Human Development is available to eligible undergraduate students in the Department of Kinesiology.

“My hope is that recipients of this award pursue careers that are professionally rewarding, but also allow the opportunity to serve others,” Ricketts said. “Many of us have been gifted with an education that has allowed us to pursue careers that yield personal gratification and rewards on many fronts, thus I believe it is also our responsibility to give back to the organizations and communities that have allowed us to grow in so many dimensions.”

Ricketts will retire in June after serving for more than 40 years as a faculty member teaching undergraduate kinesiology courses and adventure-based experiential activities in the Department of Kinesiology.

He also served as faculty adviser to the Kinesiology Club for more than 20 years, and volunteered for many community organizations.

“For over four decades of my professional life, I have had a passionate and rewarding career at Penn State University Park, starting in the former College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and now the College of Health and Human Development,” Ricketts said. “As a faculty member of the Department of Kinesiology, I valued all aspects of my career. The most important was the opportunity to work with, mentor and teach undergraduate students, develop unique adventure-based courses, engage our local community and serve in various leadership positions both on and off campus.”

Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development, said the endowment is a great example of a faculty member creating a legacy that will endure, and that Ricketts’ gift will have ripple effects in perpetuity.

“Bob has always encouraged and fostered student leadership,” Crouter said. “Under his guidance, the Kinesiology Club has been a vibrant community of engaged students. This award will ensure that the department continues to emphasize the values that have guided Bob's teaching inside and outside the classroom and students will be the beneficiaries.”

Full-time juniors and seniors majoring in kinesiology, or a successor degree program, are eligible for the award. Award recipients must have achieved outstanding student leadership, community engagement and service, or have held positions of leadership in various department, college, university or local community organizations, and have maintained a grade point average of 3.0.

To apply, eligible students should provide a written summary of their student engagement/leadership activities in the department, college, university and local community, and include one letter of recommendation. Each award will be for one academic year. For more information on eligibility, contact Leigh Ayn McNelis at

Ricketts was also involved, along with other faculty members, in creating the Student-Faculty Enhancement Endowment in the Department of Kinesiology to support student and faculty needs and initiatives that have the potential to increase the quality of education offered by the department. Created in the mid 1990s, the goal of the Student-Faculty Enhancement Endowment is to promote regular, lifelong physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit

  • Ricketts 2017

    Robert "Bob" Ricketts

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 12, 2017