A University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo professor of kinesiology and exercise sciences (KES), received the 2018–2019 Jerry R. Thomas Distinguished Leadership Award for Bachelor’s Degree Granting Departments, the highest honor given by the American Kinesiology Association (AKA).
Harald Barkhoff received the recognition in January at the AKA annual leadership conference in Phoenix, Arizona, where he was also appointed to the association’s board of directors and diversity committee.
“I am truly humbled and honored to have received such a prestigious award on a national level,” said Barkhoff. “It was quite a surprise.”
Elaine Heiby, professor emerita of psychology at UH Mānoa, nominated Barkhoff for the award. Barkhoff’s UH Hilo colleagues Misty Pacheco, an associate professor of KES, and Matt Platz, professor of chemistry and former vice chancellor for academic affairs, provided letters of support.
Heiby’s nomination letter cited Barkhoff’s introduction of classes on indigenous sports such as ocean paddling and surfing that had not previously existed in the UH System. Barkhoff’s papers at conferences in Polynesia introduced the integration of kinesiology, the scientific study of body movement, in the context of island cultures–in particular, indigenous and Native Hawaiian knowledge and belief systems. The award winner is also the KES department chair.
“Overall, under Barkhoff’s leadership, UH Hilo has expanded the influence of kinesiology in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific Islands,” said Heiby.
While the national award recognizes the leadership of an individual, Barkhoff feels it is really a reflection and recognition for the successful efforts of the KES team and community.
“There is no greater compliment than students and our community trusting us with their education,” said Barkhoff. “And in return we have always tried to put our students and their needs first. We are so lucky to have such dedicated and hard-working faculty, staff and administrators who support us.”