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Retiring HES faculty member reflects on his time at NC State

The Department of Health and Exercise Studies spoke with Chris Ousley about his 30 years teaching NC State Students valuable lessons, the work he's done, the impact he's had, and his plans after retirement.

The new Wellness and Recreation Center at night
The Wellness and Recreation Center, home of the Department of Health and Exercise Studies

By Eliza Barsanti

The Health and Exercise Studies Department (HES) is one of the oldest academic departments at NC State. Founded in 1923, HES aims to teach a diverse student population the skills and strategies for sustaining healthy minds and bodies throughout their lifelong journeys. HES’s work is made possible by a faculty of experts in all things health and wellness. Since August 1991, Chris Ousley has been a part of this all-star team, educating students about all aspects of living a healthy life. Ousley will be retiring this spring, but before then, we got the chance to sit down with him and talk about the accomplishments and memories he’ll be taking with him after his time with HES. 

During his time with the department, Ousley has taught courses in a number of different subject areas, but he’s had a few specialties.

“I taught HESM 213 Human Sexuality for 25 years,” Ousley said. “HESS 239 Self Defense has also been a major part of my teaching career. I have presented self defense seminars at several conferences and published an article on self defense.”

Chris Ousley
Chris Ousley

In addition to teaching HES courses to students, Ousley has been a valuable member of the HES faculty. He served as the chair of two hiring committees and has been a member of the department’s advisory committee. He has also served as the minor coordinator of the department’s health minor, one of the department’s five minor programs. 

When asked about his favorite components of his career with the department, Ousley discussed his experience designing and now teaching a popular 100-level HES course.

“I developed the HESF 112 Fitness Kickboxing course,” he said. “It was a time of creative ‘madness’ for me. I wrote a 60-page manual that contains dozens of workouts. Teaching the class has been especially satisfying.”

Ousley’s impact has gone beyond teaching exercise skills; he’s also impacted students’ lives by teaching about wellness in all areas of life. When asked about a favorite teaching memory, Ousley pointed to a moment when he realized he’d had this kind of impact on a student in his HESM 212 Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco class. 

“A student came up to me at the end of the semester and explained how this class had helped to change his life in reference to alcohol,” he said. “He realized that his pattern of use was leading him on the path to alcoholism. He thanked me for helping him realize what was happening in his life.”

Ousley’s varied experience in teaching, leadership and course design won him two faculty awards during his time at NC State. These included the X-Factor Award, which honors a faculty member whose work surpasses the requirements of the job, and the Paul Derr Award, which honors excellence in health and exercise teaching. 

After a busy 30 years, you may wonder what’s next for Ousley.

“I have about 100 books that I want to read,” he said. “So I will get started on those and then also do some volunteer work. Thank you, NC State, for a great career and plenty of awesome life experiences!”