PSU’s Irene Cucina Elected President of National Health and Physical Education Alliance

April 7th, 2011 by Adam

Professor Irene Cucina of Plymouth State University’s Department of Health and Human Performance was elected President of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) April 3 at the group’s annual conference in San Diego. The group’s mission is to promote leadership, research, education, and best practices in the professions that support creative, healthy, and active lifestyles. AAHPERD has more 20,000 members involved with physical education, recreation, fitness, sport and coaching, dance, health education and health promotion. PSU President Dr. Sara Jayne Steen said Cucina is a nationally recognized physical education and health researcher and educator who has earned the respect of her peers.

Dr. Irene Cucina
Dr. Irene Cucina

“Professor Cucina is an extraordinary and inspiring leader, a dynamic role model for students and colleagues,” Steen said. “Her leadership of AAHPERD will allow her to have a voice in crucial national discussions of active living, health, and wellness.” Cucina’s research has explored issues such as injury prevention and cause, exercise in the treatment of diabetes, obesity prevention, and dance as a way to enhance fitness.

A member of AAHPERD since the early 1980s, Cucina has served the organization in a variety of elected and appointed positions at the state, district and national levels. Cucina said she is proud to represent Plymouth State on the national stage in advocating for healthier lifestyles and fitness.

“I am so grateful that the administration has always supported my involvement in my professional association,” said Cucina. “I believe that by serving the HPERD professions, I have been able to provide wonderful opportunities for our students.”

PSU Professor Linda Levy, chair of the Department of Health and Human Performance, said Cucina’s professional and teaching experiences are quite extensive and provide a strong foundation for this new leadership role.

“Dr. Cucina is an excellent teacher. She goes beyond bringing student-centered instruction to the classroom; she brings lessons to life and brings life to the lessons. She models active engagement by taking every opportunity to help students find their voice and by helping them to get involved professionally. The leadership skills she uses in the classroom have put her in an excellent position to lead her professional colleagues. Irene is the perfect individual to lead this prestigious organization,” Levy said.

Cucina earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University, a Master of Education from Cambridge College, and a doctorate of Physical Education from Springfield College. Prior to assuming her current position at Plymouth State University in 1998, she spent 16 years as a health and physical education teacher and coach at Newton North High School in Newton, Mass. In 2007, she took on the responsibility of directing the University’s teacher preparation and advanced preparation programs as the Director of Teacher Education and the institutional coordinator for the teacher education accreditation.

Locally, Cucina serves on many committees at PSU and serves as chair of the Council of Teacher Education and assistant chair of the Health and Human Performance Department. Health and Human Performance is one of Plymouth State University’s largest departments, actively involved with preparing wellness professionals and educators. Additionally, she volunteers for Habitat for Humanity.

In recognition of her exemplary contributions, Cucina has received numerous awards including the AAHPERD Honor Award for outstanding professional achievement, the Eastern District Association Honor Award for career distinction, the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport’s Pathfinder Award for enhancing the role of women in sports, the New Hampshire AHPERD Outstanding Professional Award for College Teaching, and the Massachusetts Secondary Teacher of the Year. She has been inducted into the Northeast Women’s Hall of Fame, and is a fellow of the North American Society for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., (603) 535-2775 or

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