Redefining the Classroom

Great Lake State Weekend 2013

Paul Ripley Young Alumnus Award

Christopher Fink '99

Christopher Fink Ph.D. returns to campus this fall to accept the Paul Ripley Award for Young Alumni, which recognizes Lakers who have enjoyed professional success early in their careers.

Chris, who graduated from LSSU in 1999, is assistant professor and chair of the Dept. of Health and Human Kinetics at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he has worked since 2007.

“I am deeply honored to be receiving this award for many reasons, but the foremost is the key role that my time and interactions at LSSU played in leading me to where I am today,” Chris said. “Because of the personal nature of my academic work with the faculty at LSSU, I always hoped to teach and conduct research at an institution where the faculty/student relationship is collaborative and close…I often cite my time at LSSU with current and potential OWU students as we discuss the value of working and learning together.

“I have no doubt that my passion, curiosity, and approach to teaching and inquiry has developed from the wonderful foundation that I gained at LSSU. I can't overstate how much it means to me to receive this award from the institution that I hold in such high regard,” Chris added.

From his start at OWU, Chris has focused his teaching in health behavior and health promotion, food studies, and qualitative inquiry. In addition to being department chair, he is faculty advisor to the Peer Health Advocate Team student group, and he works with faculty and staff across disciplines on health-related projects and program development.

Chris’s research and scholarly interests involve physical activity and dietary behavior change, purpose and meaning in physical activity and diet, application of theoretical constructs and principles to the health behavior change process, food education and food studies, cooking as a health behavior, and the relationship between the Mediterranean culture and lifestyle (specifically Italian) and nutritional/movement behavior choices. He is collaborating with colleagues in Italy in examining the interplay between traditional knowledge regarding food, food system design, and health promotion, and he and his students are working on a research project in conjunction with the Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Pollenzo, Italy, titled “Granai della Memoria.” The project examines traditional knowledge about food, especially that which has been passed down from previous generations.

Chris and his students have been working with colleagues in the International Union of Health Promotion and Education and the Association for the Study of Food and Society in developing a food-and-health-related study-abroad experience.He has led two short-term travel learning experiences to Italy, where students examined the role of the socio-cultural and physical environments in food and physical activity choices.

In addition to IUHPE and ASFS, Chris is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. He serves on a number of committees in Delaware, including a food coalition, the Delaware Parks and Recreation advisory board, the Partnership for a Healthy Delaware County, and the Go Healthy Delaware Initiative. He is a lifetime member of the LSSU Alumni Association.

“Coming into LSSU, I struggled to determine where my academic and professional path should lead,” Chris said. “The vast array of relationships and experiences that emerged during my time in the exercise science and athletic training programs served to not only clarify my passion for health and well-being, but also as the perfect educational foundation to carry this forward into graduate study in the areas of exercise psychology and, later, health promotion. This was, in a word, where I learned to be curious.”

From LSSU, Chris went on to Indiana University-Bloomington, where he earned a master’s degree in kinesiology, and then to Ohio State University to earn a doctorate in exercise science.

“I gained my passion for faculty work by learning from all of my wonderful professors at LSSU, but especially from Professors Joe Susi and the late Lee Gardiner, who were instrumental in developing my academic base in and excitement about this field.” 

Chris and his wife Julie have two children, daughter Amelia (5) and son Luca (2). Chris’s personal interests lie close to his academic pursuits, including cycling, running, cooking, listening to Italian music, watching sports and playing guitar.