Press Release


UNC at Greensboro Professor to Receive Highest Award From SHAPE America

RESTON, VA, February 17, — Catherine Ennis, a professor of curriculum theory and development in the Department of Kinesiology at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, will receive the highest award given by SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators at its 132nd National Convention & Expo in Boston on Friday, March 17. Given in recognition of long and distinguished service to one or more of the professions, the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal, designed by sculptor R. Tait McKenzie, will be presented to Dr. Ennis at the Hall of Fame Banquet Friday evening.  

"The Gulick Award honors an individual who exemplifies the highest standards in accomplishment, innovation, and leadership," says SHAPE America President Jackie Lund of Georgia State University. "For over 40 years Catherine Ennis has been a dedicated teacher, researcher and author. She is known internationally for her research which focuses on curriculum theory and development in physical education with specific applications to urban school settings."

Others to be honored during the Hall of Fame Banquet will be National Physical Education Teachers of the Year for elementary, middle and high school and National Teachers of the Year for adapted physical education, dance and health. Christine Brennan, national sports columnist for USA Today, will be inducted into the SHAPE America Hall of Fame. The banquet is sponsored by Human Kinetics, an employee-owned company committed to serving the physical activity field, and Sportime, featuring SPARK, a category of School Specialty, Inc.

In addition to the Gulick recognition at the convention, Dr. Ennis has been selected to deliver the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES) Lecture on Wednesday, March 15. Established in 2006, the RQES Lecture provides for in-depth coverage of a research topic and an opportunity to give formal peer recognition to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the research represented in the sections of RQES. The topic of her presentation will be "Educating Students for a Lifetime of Physical Activity: Enhancing Mindfulness, Motivation and Meaning." The lecture is sponsored by Taylor & Francis Publishers.

Professor Ennis has published over 80 research articles in refereed education and physical education journals and delivered over 175 presentations to international, national, and regional audiences. She has twice received the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Special Interest Group Distinguished Paper Award for her research. Dr. Ennis has co-authored/edited three books, The Curriculum Process in Physical Education (1995, McGraw-Hill), Student Learning in Physical Education: Applying Research to Enhance Instruction (2003, 2nd edition, Human Kinetics), and The Routledge Handbook of Physical Education Pedagogies (2017, Routledge). She has been the pedagogy section editor for RQES and currently is an Editorial Board member for Contemporary Educational Psychology. She has been principal investigator for National Institutes of Health grants totaling more than $3 million that funded the design and assessment of the elementary Science, PE, & Me! and the middle school Science of Healthful Living curricula.   

An Active Fellow and Past-President of the National Academy of Kinesiology, she is also a Fellow in the American Educational Research Association (AERA), SHAPE America, and AIESEP: International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education. In 1991, she chaired the Curriculum and Instruction Academy of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and later chaired the American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group on Research on Learning and Instruction in Physical Education (1999-2001). In 2006, she presented the Charles H. McCloy Lecture to the Research Consortium (AAHPERD) and the Cagigal Lecture to the AIESEP World Congress in Jyväskylä, Finland. Dr. Ennis served as President of the SHAPE Research Consortium in 2010, and she was the SHAPE/AAHPERD Alliance Scholar, presenting the Scholar Lecture entitled, “On Their Own: Preparing Students for a Lifetime.”

Dr. Ennis has presented the Lansdowne Scholar Lecture at the University of Victoria, British Columbia (1998), the Pease Family Scholar Lecture at Iowa State University (2008), and the Butch and Mary Slaughter Lecture at the University of Virginia (2010). She has delivered the Scholar Lecture for the AERA Special Interest Group on Research on Learning and Instruction in Physical Education (1995), the Research Consortium Scholar Lecture (1999) and the Curriculum and Instruction Academy Scholar Lecture (2008). Among her many awards, she is the recipient of the Curriculum and Instruction Academy Honor Award (AAHPERD; 2002), the Research Consortium Distinguished Service Award (2014), and the R. Tait McKenzie Award for professional leadership from the Maryland Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (2003).

Dr. Ennis also has received the Distinguished Alumni Award (2009) and the Distinguished Senior Researcher Award (2013) from the School of Health and Human Sciences at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While a faculty member at the University of Maryland, she received the College of Health and Human Performance Jerry Wrenn Outstanding Service Award (2005), the Doris W. Sands Outstanding Teaching Award (2000) and the Muriel Sloan Communitarian Award (1997) for her service to public schools. She also is a recipient of the Celebration of Teaching Award from the University of Maryland Center for Teaching Excellence (1993). She was inducted into the Lynchburg College Sports Hall of Fame (field hockey & lacrosse) in 1992. 

A graduate of Lynchburg College (VA) with a bachelor's degree, she also received a master’s degree from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. Previously she held faculty positions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Maryland-College Park.

For more information about SHAPE America's National Convention & Expo, visit the website and follow #SHAPEBoston.


About SHAPE America
SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, SHAPE America works with its 50 state affiliates and national partners to support initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Let's Move! Active Schools and the Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart programs.

Since its founding in 1885, the organization has defined excellence in physical education, and our resources provide the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level - from preschool to university graduate programs. For more information, visit

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