Health and Human Development mourns passing of Professor Emerita Janet Atwood

January 15, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State community and the College of Health and Human Development are mourning the loss of Janet Atwood, associate professor emerita in kinesiology.

Atwood spent a lifetime enthusiastically devoted to the world of athletics. At Scarsdale High School in 1946, her peers voted her most athletic, forecasting her success at Skidmore College, where she joined the field hockey roster at a time when Title IX had yet to compel gender equity reforms. After graduating in 1950 as president of her class with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, she went on to earn her master’s degree from the University of Iowa, where she served on the faculty for eight further years, followed by a teaching and administrative stint at the University of New Hampshire.

Janet Atwood

Janet Atwood

IMAGE: Penn State

In 1969 Atwood relocated to State College, Pennsylvania, where she embarked on a 30-year career at Penn State and flourished as a member of the faculty. She was deeply committed to ensuring that students succeed. For many years she served on the University’s Faculty Senate, culminating in her elevation to chair of the body in 1989–90. She was also the recipient of the Evelyn R. Saubel Faculty Award in 1993, which honors exceptional faculty members in the College of Health and Human Development for their dedication to mentorship and service.

“Janet Atwood's substantial contributions to our department and to the College of Health and Human Development have helped students and faculty succeed and reach their fullest potential,” said Nancy Williams, head of the Department of Kinesiology and professor of kinesiology and physiology. “She cared deeply about the quality of the education our undergraduates received and about the professional development of our faculty. She demonstrated this commitment throughout her outstanding career as a faculty member and through her generosity. Her legacy will be honored for years to come.”

In addition to her contributions to teaching and service, Atwood left a distinguished philanthropic legacy at Penn State. Not only did she become an active member of the HHD development committee for the University’s “For the Future” campaign, serving as co-chair of the Faculty and Staff fundraising efforts from 2007–2014, but she also made a number of gifts to generate support for the University in perpetuity. Her endowments include the Emerging Faculty Development Fund in the Department of Kinesiology; the Janet Atwood Honors Scholarship in the Department of Kinesiology; and the Janet Atwood Endowed Fund for Sports Medicine.

Learn more about Atwood’s life and legacy by reading her obituary.

Last Updated January 27, 2021