Two earn University Distinguished Professor title

December 14, 2011

Deborah Feltz, a professor and chairperson of the Michigan State University Department of Kinesiology, has been selected as one of 11 MSU professors to be named a University Distinguished Professor in 2011.

This exclusive title is among the highest honors that can be bestowed on a faculty member by the university. Those selected for the title have been recognized nationally and internationally for the importance of their teaching, research and outreach achievements.

As a sport and exercise psychologist, Feltz has made numerous contributions to the field of kinesiology and is particularly interested in self-efficacy and the psychosocial implications of sport and physical activity participation. She also focuses on motivation within groups in exercise, as seen in her project, “Buddy Up! Harnessing Group Dynamics to Boost Motivation to Exercise,” which demonstrates the motivational benefits of exercising with a virtual partner while playing health video games.

Barbara Schneider, a nationally regarded scholar on education, youth and families, also was selected as a University Distinguished Professor in 2011.

She and Feltz were recognized for the honor during an evening reception on Nov. 17, 2011.

Schneider is the John A. Hannah Chair in the College of Education and the Department of Sociology at MSU. The author of 15 books and more than 100 articles, her research has focused on how the social contexts of schools and families influence the academic and social well being of adolescents as they move into adulthood. One of her current studies, the College Ambition Program (CAP), tests a model for promoting a college-going culture in high schools that encourages adolescents to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) college majors and occupations.

In the award video, Schneider talks about her experiences being very sick as a child and the hardships she saw other young patients endure.

“It made me realize that the opportunity structure for some families was very different than the opportunities than I had had and I thought I would like to do something to change people’s lives,” she said of her decision to go into education.

Beyond her work at MSU, Schneider also is a senior fellow of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), where she is the principal investigator of the Center for Advancing Research and Communication in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

More than 120 MSU faculty members have received the University Distinguished Professor title since 1990. That now includes at least 12 current and former College of Education professors.

The University Distinguished Professors were recommended by President Lou Anna K. Simon and approved by the MSU Board of Trustees at its June 17 meeting.

Individuals holding the professorship receive, in addition to their salary, a stipend of $5,000 per year for five years to support professional activities.

Read more on MSU News.

Visit to watch videos about this year’s recipients.