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Faculty and Staff

Retiring HES Faculty Member Reflects on His Experiences and Impact

The Department of Health and Exercise Studies spoke with Gary Wayne Pollard about his 32 years teaching at NC State, which included numerous achievements, memories, and stories of impact.

The new Wellness and Recreation Center at night

By Eliza Barsanti

The Department of Health and Exercise Studies (HES) at NC State works to educate NC State’s diverse student body on the many components of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, both in college and beyond. Gary Wayne Pollard started teaching for HES in 1989. Since then, he’s spent each day teaching students how to be the healthiest versions of themselves. He is retiring this spring, but we got the chance to sit down with him and discuss his inspiring accomplishments and memories from his time in the Wolfpack. 

Gary Wayne Pollard

Pollard began his career at NC State teaching several aquatic activities. He helped numerous students to learn new skills and participate in these activities safely. 

“I was the aquatics director for our department from 1989 until 1998,” he said. “I taught scuba diving, lifeguard training and most of the aquatics classes offered during those years. My primary research areas were studies on decompression sickness in sport divers and oxygen administration for drowning victims by lifeguards.”

Pollard was promoted to the associate professor rank in 1996, specializing in numerous health and exercise coursework areas.

“After 1998 my primary teaching specialty areas were scuba, karate, archery and weight (strength) training.”

In addition to his busy teaching and research schedule, Pollard worked diligently on a number of departmental committees and university committees throughout his tenure at NC State. Pollard has received many well-deserved honors for his commitment to the HES department throughout his career, including five outstanding teaching awards.

Pollard has also been honored for his valuable research in the aquatics field. Throughout his tenure, he has been honored with six research grants for studies on decompression sickness and diver training in fragile marine environments.

When asked about some of his favorite memories from his NC State career, Pollard pointed to a particularly adventurous experience through which he was able to guide students to explore one of the world’s largest ecosystems. He explained, “Definitely teaching NC State biology students about scuba diving on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.”

He also remembers his time with his colleagues in the HES Department fondly, especially fishing with fellow lecturer Terry Dash.

After over 30 years at NC State University, Pollard has no shortage of post-retirement plans.  

“I’m going to spend more time with my wife of 40 years, work with the Orange County Prison Ministry and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I am also presently building a two-story treehouse on a 900-square foot platform supported by three enormous White Oaks. Guess you could say I’m going to ‘refire’ when I retire.”

For more information about HES’s mission, faculty and course offerings, visit