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Dr. Steve Chen helps students develop solutions for real-world problems

Dr. Steve ChenProfessor of Sport Management Dr. Steve Chen is helping his students become competent professionals while promoting health education and cross-discipline collaboration on campus.

Chen began teaching at MSU in August 2005 and has worked with students through the Undergraduate Research Fellowship (URF) program for over a decade, actively engaging them in sport management research. Most recently, Chen and his student researchers, senior Sport Management majors William Wellman from South Shore and Jose Garcia-Castro Jr. from Morehead, collaborated with Dr. Christy Trent, instructor of business, to develop a case study involving security at sporting venues. Chen said he's observed tighter security at athletic venues since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. As a result, security personnel at sporting venues have begun searching purses and bags brought into the facilities.

Chen said he presented his students with a case study based on an encounter he witnessed at a sporting event at another state school.

"At Morehead State, even though we have sponsors like Fazoli's and Buffalo Wild Wings, if you bring in stuff from Wendy's or Arby's or somewhere like that, there's no one to say that you can't bring this in, and that's very different from other schools and all the major professional sports venues," he said.

In the scenario, an elderly couple attended a sporting event and tried to bring their own food into the venue but were stopped when security guards searched the wife's purse. They argued that her husband had diabetes and could not eat unhealthy foods at the concession stand. Chen posed the scenario to his students and had them imagine they were the facility manager, asking them how they would deal with such a scenario if they were in charge.

Chen, Wellman, and Garcia-Castro presented the case at the Atlantic Marketing Association annual conference in Savannah, Georgia, in September. It was named the "Best Abstract in Case Study Track."

Chen strongly advocates the URF program, encouraging his students to seek out such opportunities rather than working an off-campus job.

"I inspire them to take every opportunity; if the University provides us funding for undergraduate research, I encourage them to do that instead of getting a job at a gas station or supermarket," Chen said. "So, I have been able to convince some students to buy into that idea. I have been so fortunate and so lucky for those people who have worked with me as individuals. Many of them are now quite successful in the field."

Chen is known for more than his research. He was recently honored with KY SHAPE's President's award for his work in health education. KY SHAPE is the state affiliate of SHAPE America, which promotes health and physical education through curriculum development, public advocacy and more. Chen has been involved with KY SHAPE for more than ten years, serving as chief editor of the KY SHAPE Journal and contributing numerous articles to the publication. Chen said he continues to stay involved because he believes in KY SHAPE's mission to promote health and physical activity through all levels of education, and he's proud to be recognized for his contributions.

"I'm very honored to be able to receive that award, the highest the organization gives at a state level," he said. "Research is a fundamental skill and a way to help our students, and I'm sure there's a whole lot of faculty members doing exactly the same thing for their own students in their academic divisions."

Chen said he'd like to see MSU host its own undergraduate research conference someday to highlight more of the work of his colleagues across campus and plans to continue to reach out to faculty in other areas for collaboration opportunities.

Learn more about MSU'S sport management programs by emailing, or calling 606-783-2090.

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