Dr. Amy Woods Named McKechnie Professor
Dr. Amelia May Woods, head of the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been named the James K. and Karen S. McKechnie Professor in the College of Applied Health Sciences. An investiture ceremony took place on February 27, 2018.
A nationally recognized scholar in the area of physical activity education, Dr. Woods’ research seeks to improve school-based physical activity as well as understand and enhance the career development of elementary- and secondary-level physical education teachers. A former physical education teacher in Newberry, South Carolina, Dr. Woods also studies factors that contribute to teacher self-efficacy, including productive reflection and professional development. Her research has resulted in two co-authored books, more than 100 scholarly articles and chapters, and numerous national and international invited lectures and conference presentations.
“Dr. Woods is concerned with sustaining innovative practices in teaching, and her work informs both policy and practice in teacher education,” said Dr. Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell, dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences. “It leads to more meaningful and effective learning in the K-12 environment as well as lower rates of teacher burnout.”
Dr. Woods completed her undergraduate degree at Winthrop University, her master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, and her PhD at the University of South Carolina. She previously served on the faculties of Indiana State University, St. Olaf College, and Columbia College. She is a Fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology and the Society of Health and Physical Educators. A faculty inductee in the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, she received the 2018 Curriculum and Instruction Academy Honor Award from the Society for Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America).
In accepting her honor, Dr. Woods paid tribute to the sponsors of the professorship, James and Karen McKechnie. “I have experienced the generosity of this family before and almost every single day because they’re founding donors of the Steven’s Family YMCA, where I work out with thousands of people in the community each week,” she said. “So this feels especially meaningful coming from this family, who care so much for this college, this university, and this community.”
The McKechnies have long known the benefits of physical activity in their own lives, being avid skiers and swimmers. Mrs. McKechnie completed a degree in physical education in the College of Applied Health Sciences in 1970, the same year that Dr. McKechnie completed his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He went on to become an orthopedic surgeon, with practices in Mattoon and Urbana-Champaign. In 2011, he and Karen funded the James K. and Karen S. McKechnie Laboratory, part of the facilities of the College of Applied Health Sciences’ Center on Health, Aging, and Disability. With this professorship, they continue their support for the college’s mission to improve the quality of life for diverse individuals, families, and communities through education, research, and public engagement.
Watch the investiture ceremony.