CHRISTIAN W. ZAUNER, Ph.D.

National Academy of Kinesiology – Member #327

Christian Zauner, NAK Fellow #327, passed away November 2, 2014 in Oregon. He was 84. Dr. Zauner was the founding dean of the East Carolina University, School of Health and Human Performance (now the College of Health & Human Performance). Chris joined the ECU administration after a distinguished career as an exercise physiologist at Temple University, the University of Florida and Oregon State University, and served as Dean from 1994 – 1999.

Following his doctoral work at Syracuse University, Chris took a position at Temple (1963-65). In 1965, Chris moved to the University of Florida where he also held an adjunct associate professorship in the College of Medicine. Chris teamed with a medical school colleague and began his funded career of studying physical activity and its effect on health. He was good at it: a curious, disciplined, creative, and a real scientist when there were not many in the field of physical education. That is his contribution to kinesiology - he helped set the stage for much of what was to come by earning the respect of our colleagues in the biological sciences

In 1987, Chris moved to Oregon State as Professor and Chair of Exercise and Sport Science. Then, in 1994, Chris decided to see if he could make his mark on upper administration, and he took the position of founding Dean of what was to become the first School of Health and Human Performance. Chris was a perfect fit. His blend of intellect, creativity (and published poet, with poems in the National Poetry Anthology in 1957 and 1961), and sense of honor (Chris became known among the deans and provost as the model of integrity among administrators at ECU) were just right for the new School. 

His leadership style was undoubtedly shaped by an important chapter in his life and that was his service as a Navy Corpsman with the Marines during the Korean War (1951-54). Chris’ Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was what is now known as HM-8427 Fleet Marine Force Reconnaissance Independent Duty Corpsman. In everyday language he was a combat medic. His military experience brought him a sense of identity and informed his being, and instilled in him wisdom and a sense of honor, qualities that he modeled in his personal and professional life. Chris as the man was defined by his service in the military, his family (he was utterly devoted to his wife Betty, his children and grandchildren), and researching physical activity.

Chris was a person of quiet joy, wit, and dedication to others. He was in hospice care in Portland, Oregon and had the opportunity visit with Betty, his children and grandchildren, before he passed away. His portrait hangs proudly in the Cain conference room of the HHP dean’s suite at East Carolina University