Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Tara Tietjen-Smith grew up on a farm showing horses and working at her father’s physical therapy clinic. Although she originally planned to continue working at the family’s clinic, Tietjen-Smith soon realized she had many other opportunities available to her. While completing her doctoral studies at Middle Tennessee State University, she worked as a cardiac rehabilitation exercise physiologist at Vanderbilt University, an instructor and director of student and employee wellness, and as director of the Beaman Student Life Center at Belmont University. During this time, she discovered her passion for teaching and soon accepted a position at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Tietjen-Smith now lives in Cumby, Texas with her husband, two children, three dogs, one cat and four horses!
Known for raising the bar in higher education and implementing cutting-edge research on women’s health and leadership into her teaching methods, Tietjen-Smith isn’t your typical health and human performance professor. She takes pride in her work and remains dedicated to helping others reach their goals. In 2017, she received the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education’s Presidential Award in recognition of Exceptional Leadership, an honor only bestowed twice before in the association’s history. With 17 years of service at A&M-Commerce, she remains a steadfast and active member of the university community. Colleagues and students alike have the utmost respect for her. We can only imagine the future accomplishments Tietjen-Smith will achieve as she continues to shine as an ambassador for A&M-Commerce.
A Conversation with Dr. Tietjen-Smith
What would you tell a student who is thinking about attending A&M-Commerce?
“If you are looking for personal attention and faculty who care about your future, Texas A&M University-Commerce is the place for you!”
What draws you to your discipline?
“The health and kinesiology profession is a helping profession. It helps others realize their dreams. Whether they are a client, research participant or student, it’s incredibly rewarding.”
What has been your favorite course to teach?
“It would be Nutrition and Optimal Performance. This course is a study of nutrition as it relates to optimum performance and health. Nutrient needs, sources, functions and interactions are reviewed according to the latest scientific findings and applied to athletes in various sports.”
Tell us about a project you are currently working on or recently completed.
“My colleagues and I are in the middle of applying for a National Science Foundation grant for the advancement of undergraduate students in research. We are applying for money for research, travel and equipment. Undergraduate students will gain research experience earlier in their education that will allow them to contribute to the well-being of society, while also making them more marketable in their future careers.”
Tell us a little about yourself.
“I am a Professor in the Health and Human Performance at TAMUC. Before starting at A&M-Commerce, I gained experience in a variety of roles in health and kinesiology, including the Director of Fitness and Wellness at Belmont University in Nashville, and as a cardiac and pulmonary rehab exercise physiologist at both the Kim Dayani Center at Vanderbilt University and Bossier Medical Center in Bossier City. My research interests include higher education leadership and women’s health. I am currently working as a co-author on the application of a model for toxic leadership. I have received several awards and honors for her accomplishments in teaching, research and service.”
- D.A., Health & Physical Education, Middle Tennessee State University, 2003
- M.Ed., Health Promotion, Northwestern State University, 1995
- B.A., Psychology, Northwestern State University, 1992
- Professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, TAMUC, 2015-Present
- Department Head, Department of Health and Human Performance, TAMUC, 2015-2020
- Associate Professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, TAMUC, 2010-2015
- Assistant Professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, TAMUC, 2003-2010
- Assistant Professor, Department of Health and Human Performance, Belmont University, 2001–2002
- Adjunct Instructor, Department of Education, Free Will Baptist Bible College, 2001
- Adjunct Instructor, Department of Health and Human Performance, Belmont University, 1998–2003
Awards and Honors
- Amy Morris Homans Lecturer, National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education, 2020
- Faculty Eminent Scholar, Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education and the Faculty Senate Academic Practices Committee, TAMUC, 2020
- Professional Service, Faculty Senate Recognition Award for Professional Excellence, TAMUC, 2019
- Global Fellow, Quality Enhancement Plan, TAMUC, 2018
- Myrna Gilstrap Creativity in Teaching Award, Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education, 2018
- Scholar Award, Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 2017
- Madeline Justice Excellence in Teaching Award, Texas Association of Black Personnel in Higher Education, 2017
- Presidential Award, Recognition Exceptional Leadership for the Creation of the Department Head Certification Training, National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education, 2017
- Coordinator Award, NAKHE Conference, 2017
- Honor Award, Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 2016
- University Service Award, Faculty Senate Recognition Award for Professional Excellence, TAMUC, 2016
- Professor of the Year, 4th Annual Dan and Jalinna Jones Education Awards Ceremony, TAMUC, 2016
- Women’s Health
- Functional Capacity
- Currently President, National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education
- North American Society for Sport Management
- Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research
- Society of Health and Physical Educators
- Texas chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine
- Applied Sport Management Association
- Texas Women in Higher Education
- Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
- Departmental Member, American Kinesiology Association
- European Academy of Management
FRA 164 Yoga
HHPH 1364 Substance Use and Abuse
HHPH 331 Nutrition
HHPH 617 Statistical Process in Health and Human Performance