CPHHS says farewell to two retiring EXSS pioneers

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Ann Asbell (left) and Barbara Cusimano (right) both are retiring after each spending more than 20 years with the CPHHS.

The College of Public Health and Human Sciences said farewell to two influential physical education leaders this spring – Associate Professor and PETE Coordinator Barbara Ewens Cusimano and Instructor and PAC Director Ann Asbell.

Barb has been the consummate teacher, mentor, colleague and professional during her 25-year tenure at Oregon State, with perhaps her most notable work as coordinator of the Physical Education Teacher Education program.

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Barb and her former student/OSU women’s basketball coach Scott Rueck.

“Her passion for PE Teacher Education is paralleled,” says School of Biological and Population Health Sciences Co-Director Tony Wilcox, who has worked alongside Barb for 25 years. “She is absolutely current in her knowledge and methods, she is rigorous in her standards, and while she challenges her students, she supports them in every step of the learning process.”

Barb’s devotion to teaching physical education has been recognized and honored with teaching awards from the CPHHS, Oregon State and from related professional organizations.

“I am inspired by Barb’s devotion to her students, her profession, her colleagues and her university,” Tony says. “As she retires, she can take great pride in what she’s accomplished. What better legacy can there be than to have earned the universal respect, admiration and gratitude of your students and your peers? That is devotion returned, and in that is the true lesson that Barb has taught us.”

Energy, enthusiasm, joy, commitment, vision and quality are words used to describe Ann Asbell in her 29-year career at Oregon State.

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Ann (third from left on bottom) and colleagues at the Oregon Association of Physical Education board of directors 2007 retreat – during which Ann was president. “I believe people who have fun will work more effectively,” she says.

After spending almost a decade as an instructor, Ann took on the role as director of the Physical Activity Program, which includes courses students are required to take during their college career. Under her leadership during her 20-year stint as director, Ann grew the program to more than 18,000 students each year and continually received exceptionally high student evaluations.

“She has taken this highly successful, popular and respected program to new heights with growth, quality, diversity and popularity,” Tony says. “And how did she do it? She hired the best instructors, prepared and supported them for success, established high standards in the student-centered program and fostered a strong esprit de corp among the instructors. She’s also a leader in NASPE – our professional organization for the field – and she’s always stayed current and responsive to student interests. Most of all, the academic education aspect was her highest priority.”

Ann not only teaches physical education, but she practices it as well. She loves anything active: golfing, cycling, swimming, pickle ball, softball and basketball. She also sings, plays in a band, and is a wine maker, avid cycler and motorcyclist. She also has participated in Dancing with the Stars at Oregon State.

Ann has been honored by the profession and the college, receiving several awards for her work as an exemplary physical educator.

“There’s no question that Ann has had an impact. She’s made OSU better, and she’s made it a lot more fun,” Tony says. “Ann deserves this retirement, but we sure will miss her here.”

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