Dr. Tara Tietjen-Smith named head of NSU Department of Health and Human Performance

Dr. Tara Tietjen-Smith

Dr. Tara Tietjen-Smith has been named department head of the Department of Health & Human Performance (HHP) at Northwestern State University.  Her appointment has been approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.

“It’s an exciting day in HHP.  NSU is my alma mater, and I am happy to be back in Natchitoches and so honored to be able to lead this group of incredible faculty, staff and students,” said Tietjen-Smith.

Tietjen-Smith is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) and Professor of Health and Kinesiology.   She earned a Doctor of Arts in Health and Physical Education from Middle Tennessee State University as well as a Master of Arts in Health Promotion and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Northwestern State University.

Previously a full professor at Texas A&M University at Commerce, Tietjen-Smith served as the department head for Health and Human Performance in the School of Nursing & Health Sciences for six years, overseeing one of the largest departments on campus both in total faculty and students.  During her time at Commerce, she was co-founder of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, which included securing funding for and participation in planning of a $54 million building for the School of Nursing and Health Sciences which opened in January 2020, and the Academy for Health Potential, an entrepreneurial non-profit working in the East Texas community. Tietjen-Smith also served as a member of the Planning Council, Healthy Hunt County, for Hunt Regional Medical Center, chair of the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) and president of the Council of Academic Department Heads.

Tietjen-Smith is currently the President of the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE) and has served the organization in a number of capacities in recent years, including as NAKHE Vice-President, National Conference Chair, and co-chair and co-creator of the Department Head Certification Program. Tietjen-Smith delivered the 54th annual Amy Morris Homans Lecture at the 2020 National Association of Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE) conference in Palm Springs, California.  This invited lecture is one of the highest honors accorded to a professional in the field of kinesiology.

She has received several awards for her accomplishments in teaching, research, and service, including a 2020 Texas Association for Black Personnel in Higher Education Eminent Scholar; 2019 A&M Commerce Faculty Senate Recognition Award for Professional Excellence, 2017 Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance Scholar Award; and the 2017 National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education Presidential Award.

The Department of Health & Human Performance offers Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education K-12, Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science and a Master of Science in Health and Human Performance with concentrations in Sport Administration and Health Promotion.

For more information on the Department of Health & Human Performance, go to https://hhp.nsula.edu/