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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Texas A&M Faculty Receives van der Smissen Leadership Award

Dr. J.O. Spengler, of the Texas A&M School of Public Health, is this year’s Betty van der Smissen Leadership Award honoree. Awarded by the Sport & Recreation Law Association (SRLA), the honor is widely viewed as the single highest honor focusing on the academic intersection of law and policy in physical activity, recreation and sport. The award recognizes exceptional leadership and vision demonstrated through academic and service achievements and is widely regarded as the crowning achievement of one’s career in this area of scholarship.

[Photo: Dr. J.O. Spengler]

Dr. Spengler will receive the van der Smissen Award at the SLRA’s 31st Annual Conference, February 28th – March 2nd in San Antonio, Texas. The association addresses law, policy and safety issues in physical activity in sport and recreation venues, in both the public and private sectors. Dr. Spengler, a past SRLA president and associate journal editor, currently serves as professor and chair of the department of health promotion and community health sciences in the School of Public Health.

Dr. Spengler’s research in the areas of law and risk management has contributed greatly to policy formation and implementation across the U.S. Through his work, Dr. Spengler has served as a bridge between the fields of law, recreation, sport and public health. He has brought sport and recreation legal issues to other fields and audiences through dissemination of his work in numerous publications and presentations to various professional national and regional organizations and associations. He has also worked with schools and municipalities in community settings to promote safety and reduce injury risk in sport and recreation venues.

Dr. Spengler has developed and taught seven different legal issues classes in the context of health and physical activity to over 5,000 students during his tenure in academia. His teaching on legal issues resulted in recognition through college-level teaching awards and national recognition. Additionally, he has mentored master’s and doctoral students, and numerous undergraduate honors students on a wide range of legal and health topics. Further, he has written four books currently used in university classes on legal and safety issues in physical activity, recreation and sport.

Past honors have included an award from the University of Florida Foundation for outstanding research and scholarly achievements, Research Fellow awards from SRLA and Shape America, an award from the Florida Sports Hall of Fame for his work on childhood obesity prevention, the Distinguished Alumni award from the Indiana University School of Public Health, University of Toledo College of Law Order of the Coif recognition of scholarship, two University of Florida college-level teacher of the year awards, and national teaching recognition. He has also been honored through invitations to serve on boards and research groups with the American Heart Association, SHAPE America, World Fit Foundation, Sport and Recreation Law Association, and the Aspen Institute.