History written by David Swain

Melvin H. Williams, PhD, was hired at ODU in 1968 to teach exercise science courses in the Health and Physical Education program. He developed the Exercise Science academic programs, and he conducted research on ergogenic aids, such as blood doping and nutritional supplements. At some point, he created the Human Performance Laboratory and an umbrella unit for handling industry grants that supported his research, which became the Wellness Institute and Research Center (WIRC).

Richard B. Kreider, PhD, was hired in 1987 as an assistant professor in exercise science. Within the next few years, he began conducting workshops and certifications for the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health Fitness Instructor (now called “Exercise Physiologist”). These workshops and certifications were considered WIRC activities. They continued until 2003.

In 1992, Brian C. Leutholtz, PhD, was hired as an assistant professor in exercise science and he created a phase three cardiac rehabilitation program for community members that was part of the WIRC. He named the program Therapeutic Exercise to Maximize Patient Outcomes (TEMPO). This program has continued to the present day.

In 1993, David P. Swain, PhD, was hired as an associate professor in exercise science. This position was created specifically to include the directorship of the WIRC along with the usual duties of tenure-track faculty members. He supervised graduate assistants, managed the budget, and had oversight for any programs conducted under the auspices of the WIRC (including directing the ACSM programs, while Dr. Leutholtz continued as director of the TEMPO program itself until he departed ODU in 2001).

In 1995, Dr. Swain began working with the Navy Exchange Command to provide wellness programming to its executives and managers from Navy bases around the world. This program takes place in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area, which is home to the NEXCOM headquarters, and has continued to the present day.

In 1997, Dr. Swain created the Forever Fit program (originally named ElderFitness) for older adults in the community to receive exercise programming at ODU. When first begun, there were four classes of 20 participants each, meeting 2-3 times per week for exercise sessions. This program has continued to the present day.

A few other wellness programs were conducted with local businesses when Dr. Swain was the Director of the WIRC, to include: wellness assessments for CHKD employees, a back injury prevention program for Surry Nuclear Power employees, wellness assessments for EVMS’s Master’s of Public Health students, and a wellness program for employees of Haynes Furniture Company. Dr. Swain remained the Director of the WIRC until 2013.

In 2013, Corey A. Rynders, PhD, was hired as an assistant professor in exercise science and became the new Director of the WIRC. However, he left after one year.

In 2014, Kimberly G. Baskette, PhD, was hired as a lecturer in the exercise science program and became the director of the WIRC. She left ODU in December 2017.

Leryn J. Reynolds, PhD, who had been hired as an assistant professor in exercise science in fall 2017, became the new WIRC Director beginning with January 2018.