Western New England's Dr. Sharianne Walker Attended the NCAA FAR Fellows Institute

Western New England's Dr. Sharianne Walker Attended the NCAA FAR Fellows Institute

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Dr. Sharianne Walker, chair of the Western New England University Sport Management Department, was selected to attend the NCAA Division III Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) Fellows Institute. The Institute was launched in 2010 and aims to increase the effectiveness of Division III FARs at the campus, conference and national levels. The Commonwealth Coast Conference has been fortunate enough to have had FARs from six member institutions selected to attend the Institute. Among the 43 Division III conferences that are home to more than 450 colleges and universities, the CCC has been fortunate enough to be one of the few conferences to have a FAR selected to attend every one of the six institutes. The 2014 FAR Institute was held at the NCAA National Office in Indianapolis, Indiana, from October 17-19.

Upon Dr. Walker's return, we were able to sit down with her as she gave us some insight about the FAR role and her personal experience at the FAR Institute.

1. What does FAR stand for and why are you in the role?
SW: FAR stands for Faculty Athletics Representative. I am in that role as a result of being recommended by the Faculty Senate to serve in this role upon nomination by the Dean of Students and the Athletic Director. The Faculty Senate endorsed the recommendation to President Dr. Anthony Caprio who then has the ability to appoint a faculty member to that role. The role of the FAR on campus is to help serve as bridge between academics and athletics on university and college campuses. 

2. How were you able to attend the FAR meeting?
SW: I was able to attend the FAR Institute through my nomination by our CCC Commissioner Gregg Kaye.  I feel really fortunate to have received his nomination and then to be selected by the NCAA Division III Steering Committee. 

3. What are some of the topics that you discussed in your meeting?
SW: As a group, the FARs were able to learn from each other as we shared best practices and discussed the challenges of being an effective FAR.   The group represented FARs from schools throughout the country but we discovered that all of us face many of the same challenges in our role as FAR on our respective campuses.  We met in the NCAA National Headquarters Conference Center in Indianapolis.  We had the chance to visit the NCAA Hall of Champions which is part of the NCAA campus as well.  The Hall of Champions is a showcase of all the national champions for each division in every sport where a national championship is offered by the NCAA.  There are some interactive displays there along with championship banners and it's very impressive. I was so honored to have been selected to attend and the Institute was a great professional development opportunity.  Additionally, it provided me with a chance to network with colleagues across the nation as well as officials at the NCAA.  I came away from the experience with a deeper understanding of the role of the FAR as well as many new skills, strategies and ideas which I look forward to sharing with colleagues at WNE.  One of the most valuable parts of the Institute was developing friendships with a wonderful group of colleagues across Division III.

4. Why is the FAR so important to have on campus and in an athletics department?
SW: As someone whose academic discipline is sport management, this was an especially terrific opportunity for me to take what I learned back to the classroom.  I am really looking forward to sharing my learning with our campus community, especially my colleagues in the athletic department as we work together to assure our student-athletes receive a high quality education and athletic experience.