Category Archives: Features

China Champions visit 3M

On January 16 the China Champions along with associate professor Dr. Zan Gao, Ph.D got the opportunity to visit 3M, a manufacturing company in Maplewood, MN. There they heard presentations and toured 3M’s Innovation Center.

Led by the U of M’s School of Kinesiology in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, the China Champions program is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.


China Champions visit KIN 5511 course on Sport and Gender

The 2016-17 China Champions with the KIN 5511 course.

On Tuesday, December 6, the 2016-17 China Champions visited Jo Ann Buysse, PhD’s KIN 5511 course on Sport and Gender. The athletes presented an overview of their careers to students, and discussed roles of gender in sport in China. Students heard presentations from both the athletes and coaches perspectives.

China Champions visit the National Sports Center

China Champions logoThe National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine, MN, has written a blog post on the School of Kinesiology’s China Champions Program.  The post, “China Champions Visit the NSC,” details the visit and activities of the Champions at the internationally renowned amateur sports facility.

China Champions meet former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale

vice-president-mondale-visit-1The 2016-17 China Champions were introduced to former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale last evening at an event hosted by Peggy Lucas, member of the U of M Board of Regents and a supporter of the China Champions program. Mr. Mondale met each athlete individually and discussed his work in opening diplomatic doors to China and his many visits to the country.

Also attending the event were School of Kinesiology director Li Li Ji, Ph.D., and associate director Rayla Allison, J.D.

Mr. Mondale also served as a U.S. senator representing Minnesota and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Japan by President Bill Clinton from 1993-1996.

Led by the U of M’s School of Kinesiology in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, the China Champions program is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.


Dean’s reception held for third cohort of China Champions Program

Regent Michael Hui (second from left, back row) attended the event as did Sr. Associate Dean, Ken Bartlett.

On Monday, October 24, the College of Education and Human Development hosted the Dean’s reception for the elite Chinese athletes and coach. Regent Michael Hui and Sr. Associate Dean Ken Bartlett welcomed the third cohort of the China Champions program.

Led by the School of Kinesiology, in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, the China Champions program is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.


2016-17 China Champions arrive at the University of Minnesota

The School of Kinesiology welcomes this year’s China Champions, the third cohort of Chinese world-class athletes to experience a year of study at the University of Minnesota. This year’s students include three speed skaters, a weightlifter, an ice dancer, a sailor, a bicyclist and a taekwondo coach.  Most of the athletes have completed their competitive careers and now work in the China Sport Administration or are coaches.

During the year, the China Champions will attend specially designed courses in the School of Kinesiology, including academic seminars, workshops, and classes in English as a Learned Language. Athletes will also visit Minnesota cultural sites and become familiar with the Twin Cities. The China Champions are available to visit classes around the U and  share their personal experiences in training and achieving elite world championship status in their sport.

The University of Minnesota hosts the annual China Champions Program (CCP) to foster an exchange of culture, education and sport. Led by the School of Kinesiology in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the China Scholarship Council, CCP is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.

chinese-consulate-gathering China Champions hosted by the School of Kinesiology at a welcome dinner at the Tea House restaurant.





tea-house-welcome-dinnerReception in Minneapolis for the General Consulate of China, where the China Champions were recognized.


U of M expands relationship with China, planning dual-degree sport management master’s program with Shanghai Jiao Tong University

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed on Monday between the University of Minnesota and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), symbolizing a mutual commitment to collaboration, which will include a dual-degree sport management master’s program housed in both the School of Kinesiology and SJTU’s Department of Physical Education.

Hanson, Xu signing the MOU between the U of MN and SJTU
Hanson, Xu signing the MOU between the U of MN and SJTU

SJTU Vice President Lisa Xu and U of M Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson are pictured signing the MOU that will create an exchange program between the School of Kinesiology’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) sport management program and graduate students at SJTU.

The School of Kinesiology has a long-standing relationship with higher education institutions in China, including initiating the China Champions Program and running the American Cultural Center for Sport at Tianjin University of Sport.

Learn more about our unique practitioner-oriented sport management master of education (M.Ed.) program.

Calhoun interviewed in KARE-11 story on Gopher women’s hockey team

AustinAustin Stair Calhoun, Ph.D., Kinesiology alumna (2014) and director of Kinesiology’s eLearning and Digital Strategy, was interviewed for a KARE-11 story on the Gopher women’s hockey team, which won the 2016 NC Women’s  Ice Hockey championship last week in a game that was not televised. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton tried to get the game broadcast on CBS, but the organization declined.

Calhoun commented, “It’s a complicated time because while we are seeing participation levels rise for women and girls in sport, we see stagnation and in some cases a downturn in the amount of coverage that women and girls in sport receive.”

Calhoun is also an affiliated scholar with the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport.

For the full story, go to this link.


Ph.D. candidate Jessica Holst-Wolf featured on CEHD homepage

Jessica-Hoist-Wolf-6778Kinesiology Ph.D. candidate Jessica Holst-Wolf is featured in Connect and on the CEHD home page in a story titled, “Engineer for Health.” Jessica’s emphasis is biomechanics and she is advised by Jűrgen Konczak, Ph.D.  Read her story here

China Champions acclimate to U.S. education, culture with help of volunteers

ccp-wordmarkThe U of M’s China Champions Program, a year-long educational and cultural immersion experience administered through the School of Kinesiology, is in its second successful year, and program coordinators are continually working to enhance participants’ time here. The eight Chinese Olympic athletes and coach who arrived this month will be given more practical experiences to ease their transition, and time with one-on-one volunteers who will help them with language skills and introduce them to U.S. culture –including a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Read the Minnesota Daily story here.

U of M welcomes elite Chinese athletes and coach to Twin Cities for second cohort of China Champions Program

wordmark-umn-china-championsTo foster an exchange of culture, education and sport, the University of Minnesota will host eight Chinese Olympic and world champion athletes and one Olympic-level coach as part of the School of Kinesiology’s China Champions Program (CCP), arriving today, Wednesday, November 4, in the afternoon. This is the second year of the unique program. Biographies for each Champion are available here.

Led by the School of Kinesiology, in collaboration with Beijing Sport University and supported by the Chinese government’s Scholarship Council, CCP is a unique, global collaboration that provides mutual benefits for Chinese athletes and University faculty, staff and students.

“This partnership offers the chance for visiting athletes and many at the University to engage, teach and enhance learning from each other,” said Li Li Ji, Ph.D., director of the School of Kinesiology and founder of the China Champions Program . “Our goal is to ensure all involved gain insight and appreciation for the cultures in each country and harness that knowledge to benefit our world.”

During the next year, participants will attend specially designed courses in the School of Kinesiology, including academic seminars, workshops and English as a Learned Language classes. Beyond the classroom, athletes will visit Minnesota cultural sites and become acclimated with the Twin Cities area, as well as take tours of University and local professional sports team’s stadiums, arenas and training facilities.

University partners with the School of Kinesiology include the University of Minnesota China Center, the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance (GPS Alliance), and the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD).

“Globalization and internationalization are an important part of CEHD’s mission of applying principles and practices of multiculturalism to advance teaching and learning,” said CEHD Dean Jean Quam. “As we welcome another cohort of the CCP, we extend and promote this unique two-way discovery between our students, faculty, staff, and community and elite Chinese athletes.”

Local business and government leaders will also meet with the athletes to give them a behind-the-scenes look into international corporations, government and the American culture.  Each of the Chinese participants are continuing their education as part of a master’s level graduate program with Beijing Sport University, the top sport university in China.

“Entering year two of this program, we are excited to continue to use sport to bridge cultures,” said Rayla Allison, associate director of the School of Kinesiology and executive director of the China Champions Program. “Last year’s program was a great success by all measures due to engagement and support of the College of Education and Human Development and Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, plus the numerous volunteers and community members who so graciously championed the program.”

Kinesiology alum takes students all the way to the Super Bowl

Kinesiocampisi_charles050213_sk001weblogy alumnus Charles Campisi (Ph.D., 2013) is an assistant professor of sport management at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, OH, a suburb of Cleveland. And while the Cleveland Brown’s FirstEnergy stadium has yet to host a Super Bowl, for the past four years Dr. Campisi has given a group of lucky undergraduates the unforgettable experience of working behind the scenes at the NFL’s biggest Game Day of the year.

Dr. Campisi has taken about 30 students each year to Super Bowls in New Orleans, East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Glendale, Arizona. This year they will go to Santa Clara, CA for Super Bowl 50. Students take a class, History of the Super Bowl, where they learn about the organizational support and planning required for major sports events, then apply their new skills to events and activities during the four days leading up to the Super Bowl and on game day.

Read more about Dr. Campisi’s unique experiences for undergraduates here. His doctoral adviser was Lisa Kihl, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology.


School of Kinesiology faculty, staff present at the 2015 MN eLearning Summit

Calhoun (back row), Lupinek, Magnuson, Hoffman (left to right)

Four School of Kinesiology faculty and staff gave a panel presentation at the 2015 MN eLearning Summit held July 29-30 at Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

Austin Calhoun, Ph.D. (Director, eLearning & Digital Strategy), Brandi Hoffman (Director, Physical Activity Program), Joshua Lupinek, Ph.D. (recent graduate), and Connie Magnuson, Ph.D. (Director, Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies program) lead a panel discussion on Kickstart Open Lab, the School’s incentivized, project-based approach to eLearning exploration, adoption, and implementation.

The presentation, “Kickstart Open Lab: An Experiment in Incentivizing, Enhancing Teaching and Learning, and Diffusing Technology,” explored the versatile and unique program developed and implemented at the School of Kinesiology.

Slides from the presentation are available here.

The MN eLearning Summit is the premiere event of the Minnesota Learning Commons and is a gathering place for K-12, college, and university educators and innovators in the Midwest who are committed to effective online and blended learning.


Ji, Hoffman travel to Chinese universities to help promote physical activity programs

A delegation of physical activity directors led by Dr. Li Li Ji, director of the School of Group panelKinesiology,  visited four universities in China this month to share strategies for promoting physical fitness among university students.  The American Culture Center (ACC) in Sports delegation included Ms. Brandi Hoffman from Kinesiology, director of the Physical Activity Program at the U of M; Ms. Carrie Sampson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Dr. Bridget Melton of Georgia Brandi presentingSouthern University. The delegation visited campus sport facilities and physical education classes at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), Zhejiang University, Shanxi Normal University, and Tianjin University of Sport. The group  presented lectures on their programs, sharing successful strategies as well as challenges, and learned how their Chinese colleagues conducted their programs.

“Declines in student health and fitness is a major concern among Chinese universities due to increased academic pressure,” said Vice-president Xu Xueming of SJTU at the USA-China Physical Education Forum. “We should learn from the U.S. and others to strengthen physical education classes to reverse the trend.”

The visits generated renewed interest and publicity at the Chinese universities, said Dr. Ji. ACC is a program supported by a U.S. State Department grant to promote public diplomacy in China. During the trip, Dr. Ji also attended the annual ACC Exchange Conference held in Xian, where all ACC representatives in China met with the new Ambassador to China to share information about their activities during the past year.

Ross interviewed by ABC5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on future of Minnesota United

Stephen Ross, Ph.D.Stephen Ross, associate professor and director of undergraduate programs, was interviewed by ABC 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on the future of Major League Soccer (MLS) team Minnesota United.

Though Minnesota United has been recently awarded an MLS franchise, Dr. Ross stated that “whether there is a public-private partnership, or if the owners fund the new soccer stadium themselves, it has to be a concrete financial deal , or the MLS will move to another city.” Ultimately, “if the funding mechanism is not in place, at some point, the MLS will separate themselves from the Wilfs and the new Vikings stadium.”

In the interview, Ross observed that MLS could leave Minneapolis before playing one game here, if the funding package does not come through.

Hoffman, Maples present at 2015 Tate Conference

Brandi Hoffman (Director of the Physical Activity and Academic, Personal, and Professional Success Programs) and Alyssa Maples (Academic Advisor) presented at the 2015 Tate Conference . Hoffman and Maples were joined by CEHD advisor Don Riley in their presentation, “Toolkit for Success: Developing Academic, Personal, and Professional Success at the U of M.”

The CEHD APPS program was developed 18109_10152645357032441_1611673479307362286_nand launched by Hoffman, with Riley and Maples as regular instructors. The program features 1-credit courses, ranging in topic from effective interviewing to preparing for graduate school, all focused on student success now and after graduation.

The Tate Conference is an annual professional development opportunity for advisors and student service professionals and an occasion to celebrate the role of advising on all University of Minnesota campuses.


Football Hall-of-Famer finishes coursework in RPLS program, fulfilling his father’s life-long dream

Bobby Bell is a member of the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame, he won a Rose Bowl title at the U of M (1960) and a Super Bowl Championship as a Kansas City Chief (1969)—and as of last week, he is also a proud alumnus of the School of Kinesiology’s Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies (RPLS) B.S. program at the age of 74.

Bell was motivated to finish his degree to honor his late father, who had always stressed education, despite humble beginnings.

“My father always said sports and education were things where blacks could compete equally with whites — if given the chance,” Bell said.

Connie Magnuson, Ph.D., RPLS program director, remarks on Bell’s accomplishments, which include a directed study where he created a youth football training manual and conducted a youth football camp in Kansas.

“It really is a big deal. He is a wonderful, remarkable man,” Magnuson said. “I have truly enjoyed working with him to complete this lifelong dream. He worked for it and most certainly earned this degree.”

Bell’s story is detailed in several newspapers, including The New York TimesHe will walk in the College of Education and Human Development’s graduation ceremony in May 2015.

CHINA CHAMPIONS profiled in MN Daily

The CHINA CHAMPIONS program participants were recently featured in a Minnesota Daily article, “Ex-Olympians at home, pupils in Minnesota.” The article covers an overview of the program as well as insights from two participants, Lu Chunlong (gold medal trampolinist) and Li Ting (gold medal synchronized diver).

In the piece, Chunlong remarks, “I was nervous up until coming here, and suddenly my dream came true. I now have my opportunity, and I’m very excited.”

RPLS undergraduate Vlaenderen featured on CEHD home page





Senior recreation, park and leisure studies undergraduate, Max Van Vlaenderen, is the featured CEHD student for October.  Vlaenderen credits his passion and calling to work  outdoors to the close-knit community and family he’s become apart of while in the major. Click here to read more of Vlaenderen’s interview.


U of M to rename Aquatic Center after Jean K. Freeman (’72)

Jean K. Freeman

The University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development will honor the late Jean K. Freeman, alumna of the then Department of Physical Education (now School of Kinesiology), by renaming the University Aquatic Center the Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center. The legendary Freeman, who passed away in 2010, was a student-athlete for the Gophers and then coached Minnesota’s swimming and diving program for more than 30 years.

Freeman swam for the Gophers from 1968-72 and graduated from the Department of Physical Education in 1972. She served as an assistant swim coach at Minnesota for one season, before being named the program’s head coach in 1973. Freeman held the position for 31 years before retiring as the women’s head coach in 2004.

“The Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center will be a tribute to an outstanding alumna, coach, role model and a forever-loyal Gopher,” Minnesota Senior Associate Head Women’s and Men’s Swimming Coach Terry Ganley said.

U of MN Aquatic Center

During her three-decade tenure, Freeman produced 27 winning seasons, which included two Big Ten Championships in 1999 and 2000, and 208 dual meet victories. Freeman coached two National Champions, 175 All-Americans, 14 Big Ten Champions and more than 1,000 student-athletes.

Among her many honors and accolades, Freeman was a four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (1984, 1986, 1996, 1999) and was inducted into the Minnesota Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1992. Freeman was also inducted into the “M” Club Hall of Fame in 2000, the University of Minnesota Aquatics Hall of Fame in 2006 and the American Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

In 1999, Freeman was the first woman to win the National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy awarded annually by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.  She was a founder of “The Coaching Summit,” which is a leadership and mentoring group of Division I women swimming coaches.

Freeman was awarded The 1998 Presidents Club Award by University of Minnesota President Mark Yudof, in honor of her partnership in building and sustaining excellence at the University, and in 2010, President Robert Bruininks presented her the Outstanding Leadership Award for her exceptional service to the University and the significant contributions made to its people and communities.

In addition to her accomplishments at Minnesota, Freeman coached at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1991, the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team that won the Quebec Cup in 1992 and the U.S. team that competed in South Korea for the 2004 World University Games. Outside of her professional commitments, she worked to establish the Learn to Swim Program in Minneapolis.

The Jean Freeman Endowed Scholarship was established in 1998. It is now awarded annually to a female swimmer who represents unyielding motivation and a committed spirit that is complimented with a deep-seeded dedication to personal growth: the embodiment of the scholarship’s namesake.

The University will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. A 3:30 p.m. reception will follow in the Commons Hotel Ballroom (615 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN).

Media who would like to attend the ceremony should RSVP to



Freeman passed away on October 14, 2010, following an extended illness.