South Alumnus Creates Undergraduate Scholarship to Honor Dr. John Kovaleski

Posted on February 11, 2022 by Amber Day
Amber Day

Dr. Damon Andrew and Dr. John E Kovaleski holding a plaque representing undergraduate scholarship t o honor Dr. John E Kovaleski. data-lightbox='featured'

Dr. Damon Andrew created the Dr. John E. Kovaleski Future Faculty Scholarship to assist undergraduate students in the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Sport with demonstrated interests in research and in a future career as a faculty member in higher education. Kovaleski, who serves as interim dean for the College of Education and Professional Studies, has worked at the University of South Alabama for more than 30 years.  Kovaleski inspired Andrew to further his education and pursue an academic career. Andrew earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and master’s in exercise physiology from South, and Kovaleski served as his advisor and mentor.

“This is such an honor,” Kovaleski said. “I am humbled by having a student scholarship named in my honor, and I am extremely thankful to Dr. Andrew for creating this fund. One of my greatest enjoyments as a professor has been helping and guiding students, much like Dr. Andrew, to discover knowledge. I truly hope this scholarship will both inspire and help future students pursue research and achieve a successful career in academia.”

Andrew changed his major several times before going into his junior year, but he took a couple of courses as electives in exercise science and his mind was set. 

“That department had a great group of faculty,” Andrew said. “But, the one faculty member that I connected with the most was Dr. Kovaleski. He was my faculty advisor, and I remember going to an advising meeting one time and he said, ‘Have you ever thought about being a faculty member?’ And to be honest, I said, ‘I had never really thought about it. I never thought about what it would take to be a faculty member.’ That was a life changing moment for me.”

“I am grateful that I had a wonderful experience as a student at South,” said Andrew, who currently serves as dean and professor of the College of Education at Florida State University. “I knew early on that education was the key to a better life. I knew I was going to college. When I came to South, I looked at how much individual attention that I would receive with a lower student-to-faculty ratio than many other universities. Going to South was one of the best decisions that I ever made.”

As a graduate student, Andrew volunteered and worked in Kovaleski’s research lab. He served as a graduate assistant, took on various jobs off campus, and strung rackets for the men’s and women’s tennis teams at South to make extra money. 

“But, I didn’t have quite enough money to buy needed equipment for my thesis research,” Andrew said. “Dr. Kovaleski went to the department chair and advocated for funding on my behalf, and we received a $500 grant to buy the additional needed equipment. It made my thesis possible. I truly appreciated that support. By the time I left South in 1999, I had multiple publications and was really well prepared to further my education.”

Andrew earned two additional master’s degrees in biomechanics and sport management from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Sport Management from Florida State University. Additionally, he completed post-graduate certificates in higher education administration from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Andrew directed University of Louisville’s doctoral program in sport administration from 2004 to 2006 and founded and directed a doctoral program in sport management at the University of Tennessee from 2006 to 2008, before serving as the dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Troy University and dean of the College of Human Sciences and Education at Louisiana State University. Andrew returned to his doctoral alma mater, Florida State University, as dean of the College of Education in 2018. 

Andrew has various scholarly achievements to his credit, including a published textbook in research methods and design, now in its second edition; 31 funded grants and contracts; 190 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, proceedings and book chapters; and 125 presentations at national and international conferences. He has served as a journal editor for various academic journals and as an editorial board member for seven other journals. His scholarship has been recognized via the Applied Sport Management Association Scholar Lifetime Achievement Award, National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education Scholar Award, Southern District Society of Health and Physical Educators Scholar Award, Society of Health and Physical Educators Mabel Lee Award, and he has been named a fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology and National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education.

“None of that would have been possible without Dr. Kovaleski,” Andrew said. “I really appreciate everything that he has done for me.” 

Both of Andrew’s research methods and design textbooks are dedicated to Kovaleski.  

“When you open them up, both say ‘this textbook is dedicated to Dr. John Kovaleski, who first encouraged me to pursue an academic career.’ But, that’s not enough. I am so pleased that future generations of students at South will receive support like I did through this scholarship to honor Dr. Kovaleski, and I hope other South alumni consider doing something similar to honor faculty members who impacted their lives.”

If you are interested in giving towards this impactful scholarship, please click here to visit the Dr. John E. Kovaleski Future Faculty Scholarship giving webpage. All gifts will be matched through the Mitchell-Moulton Scholarship Initiative. For any additional questions, please contact Aimee Meyers, associate director of University Development, at or call (251) 414-8276. 

While in the College of Education and Professional Studies, Kovaleski served as professor of exercise science and chair in the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Sport. Prior to his assignment as interim dean, Kovaleski served as associate dean and director of graduate studies in the college. He earned a bachelor’s degree in health education and minors in biological sciences and athletic training from Ohio University, master’s in exercise science from Central Michigan University, and Ph.D. in Human Bioenergetics from Ball State University.

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