Lynda Ransdell, the incoming chair of the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Kinesiology, seems to have two natural elements.
There is ice; she’s a long-time hockey player and fan of the sport.
And there is Boise State, to which she is returning after a decade-long, circuitous route through some of the country’s other notable allied health and kinesiology programs.
“So far, it’s been amazing,” she said. “It’s been a blast.”
House hunting? A bit less so. Ransdell would be the first to admit that while some things have not changed – the quality of the Bronco kinesiology program, faculty members and students – the simmering housing market leaves something to be desired.
“It’s quite a bit different” from 2012, when she left Idaho for a loop of dean-level appointments.
“It’s definitely cooling down, but it’s been interesting.”
Ransdell’s first official day back in her old department – with many long-time colleagues – will be near the beginning of July.
Nearly two decades ago, in 2003, she first was hired as Boise State’s department chair of kinesiology. She served in that position for four years, then on the faculty for five years, before taking the opportunity to expand her experiences to become dean at Montana State. Arizona State followed, then Northern Arizona, across the country to Northern Illinois. Now she’s home.
“It feels really good to be back,” she said. “I’m here to stay.”
House hunt aside, there’s a lot to like to come back to.
“I think what is very much the same is the quality of the faculty, the quality of the students,” Ransdell said. “Obviously what has changed is the size of the institution, the buildings … there are some really neat things that have happened.”
And there is Marlene Tromp. Boise State’s president was at Arizona State when Ransdell was there.
“I respect her immensely,” she said.
The kinesiology program, she is the first to say, has been stellar all along, bolstered by Boise State’s natural environment and the active lifestyles and people who have gathered to take full advantage of it.
“It’s one of the best in the country,” Ransdell notes. “There’s always been this fabulous passion for kinesiology here, and there’s a lot of momentum and appreciation for physical activity.”
“I also believe that we have outstanding leadership,” she said. “In our department, we have this fantastic mixture of experienced tenured professors and young, pre-tenured professors who are full of new ideas. This combination of skill sets is fun to work with when chairing a department.
“I think what I see as one of the best opportunities is the potential to grow the undergrad and grad programs.”
There is also interprofessional and interdisciplinary potential to mine to “really do some interesting things,” she believes.
The first order of business for Ransdell is to connect and reconnect with faculty, staff and students. She’s interested in contributing to the body of research having to do with women, physical activity and public health – “There’s just so little research out there about females.” – and she is sitting with ideas around how to bring kinesiology to the center of the conversation, and how to ensure the community is an active part of that dialogue.
She points to experiences she has had, one very recently concerning an event to share the joys of STEM with girls and women and others 10 years ago, when she conducted dry-land hockey training during which Boise State students designed and led sessions for community members who played hockey. Some of the students went on to start businesses and gained leadership experience that translated into leadership roles in their jobs and in the community. As she gets going again, she’s already trying to figure out how to work experiential learning into a class or similar offering.
Her philosophy? “When students harness their learning and exposure in a variety of ways (in and out of the classroom), great things happen.
“I’ll do stuff like that because I think it’s fun and we need to be out in the community,” she said. “I love it. I think it’s one of the most important things we can do.”
It’s clear that Ransdell is in her element, at Boise State and living kinesiology, even if off the ice momentarily. In a conversation about strength training, she helpfully offers, “Our kinesiology students can help you with that.”
“This is the thing that brought me back here,” she said. “I wanted to come back to my true love, and to the place that means so much to me.
“I’m so excited to be back. It’s kind of nice to come and give back.”