Gay Israel honored by American College of Sports Medicine

Dr. Israel, left, with 2014-15 ACSM President Carol Ewing Garber. Photo by William Morton, Morton Visuals

Gay Israel, professor and former head of CSU’s Department of Health and Exercise Science, is one of only six people nationally to receive a 2015 Citation Award from the American College of Sports Medicine.

The ACSM said Israel was selected for the award because of his significant contributions to sports medicine and the exercise sciences. He was recognized at an awards banquet during the association’s annual meeting on May 29 in San Diego.

“Citation Award winners are selected for their leadership and contributions in the areas of research and scholarship, clinical care, administrative services or educational services,” said Lawrence Armstrong, chair of the ACSM Awards and Tributes Committee. “We’re happy to recognize Dr. Israel’s tremendous accomplishments.”

‘Feather in the cap’

“To put this award in context, the Citation Award is one of only two high honors awarded by the American College of Sports Medicine,” said Barry Braun, head of the Department of Health and Exercise Science. “The very short list of people who have received it is composed of the most distinguished leaders in our field. The awarding of the Citation Award to Dr. Israel is a highly public ‘feather in the cap’ for the Department of Health and Science, the College of Health and Human Sciences and Colorado State University.”

“On a personal note,” he added, “Dr. Israel’s acceptance speech was articulate, humble and deeply moving; many people in attendance told me it was the highlight of the event.”

University Distinguished Teaching Scholar Matt Hickey, the CSU Health and Exercise Science professor who nominated Israel for the award, also lauded the former department head.

“The ACSM Citation Award is a fitting recognition of Dr. Israel’s 38-year career in the academy,” he said. “It recognizes both his excellence and his sustained contributions to teaching and mentoring, research, and community outreach. Many friends and colleagues all over the world are delighted by this very appropriate honor, as it recognizes Gay for the superb scholar/leader we know him to be.”

Unit transformed under Israel

“Gay Israel has been a nationally recognized leader in the American College of Sports Medicine,” said College of Health and Human Sciences Dean Jeff McCubbin. “CSU is proud to have him as a recipient of the prestigious ACSM Citation Award. This distinction adds recognition to the outstanding contributions in Health and Exercise Science, a unit that was transformed under the leadership of Dr. Israel.”

photo of Israels
At the ACSM ceremony, from left, are Gay Israel, his wife Karan, daughter-in-law Lauren and son Wes. The Israels’ other son and his wife, Alex and Megan, were unable to attend due to the birth of their son Graham.

During Israel’s 18-year tenure as department head, undergraduate enrollment tripled, a new Ph.D. program was added to the department and research expenditures grew from less than $50,000 in 1996 to a peak of more than $2 million annually. Israel also established the Human Performance Clinical Research Laboratory, which has been recognized as a CSU Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence since 2008. He is founder and executive director of CSU’s Heart Disease Prevention Program and has published more than 80 peer-reviewed publications. His scholarly work has been cited more than 2,500 times by his peers.

Israel has served ACSM at both regional and national levels for more than 38 years, including tenures as president of the ACSM Foundation, ACSM vice president, and chair of the ACSM Public Information Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and 50th anniversary task force.

Education and early career

Israel completed his Ed.D. in exercise physiology from West Virginia University in 1976 and joined the faculty at Howard University, a historically black University in Washington, D.C., where he founded the Howard University Human Performance Lab. In 1981, he moved to East Carolina University, where he founded that institution’s internationally recognized Human Performance Lab and served as founder and Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor Identification/Reduction Program. In 2008, his distinguished contributions to East Carolina University were recognized with his designation by that college as an East Carolina University Centennial Leader, which honors distinguished service among faculty from the first 100 years of that institution’s existence.

Other recipients of the ACSM’s 2015 Citation Award include Bruce Gladden of Auburn University, Alan R. Hargens of the University of California at San Diego, Mary Lloyd Ireland of University of Kentucky Healthcare, Bess Marcus of the University of California at San Diego, and Janice L. Thompson of the University of Birmingham

More information and a list of past recipients is available at

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is in the College of Health and Human Sciences.