CSU Service: Department Head, 1996 - 2014
Professor, 1996 - 2016
Health and Exercise Science
Richard G. (Gay) Israel passed away on April 16 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 65.
Israel, who served as department head of Health and Exercise Science for 18 years, was a transformational leader, building the department into a model that is respected nationally for outstanding research, teaching and service.
"Gay Israel brought a new vision and a high level of excellence to the Department of Health and Exercise Science," said Jeff McCubbin, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. "His vision transformed the unit to one that is now highly respected and ranked nationwide. However, Gay’s legacy extends beyond CSU. His professional and service contributions to the American College of Sports Medicine were significant. We feel his loss keenly and he will be greatly missed by all of us at CSU."
Click here to view a collection of photos of Gay's CSU career on the College's Flickr site.
Click here to view photos of Gay's Career Celebration held on April 21.
In 2014, Gay announced he would be stepping back from the role of Health and Exercise Science Department Head and beginning a transitional retirement over three years. Since then, he has worked closely with his successor, Department Head Barry Braun, as Assistant to the Department Head for External Relations. The 2014 HES newsletter outlines this transition of leadership.
Shortly after the 2014 newsletter was released, Gay and his family learned the challenging news of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis, and shared it with the department. Barry passed along his message to alumni and friends via an email message captured here.
Gay approached his diagnosis with the scientific rigor and dynamic optimism that characterized his career. He pursued several types of chemotherapy, maintained his rigorous workout routines, and reported his successes and challenges along the way with openness, humor, grace, and faith.
While I'm not a CSU alumnus, I did have the privilege to visit with Dr. Israel shortly after he arrived at CSU in 1996. I first met Dr. Israel when I was a senior at University of North Carolina (Wilmington) and I visited East Carolina University to learn more about their graduate program. I did not have the best grades, but Dr. Israel encouraged me to "hound" him with visits and calls. He told me that my true desire to be a part of the program would help bring my application toward the top. I was one of only four students accepted to the program in 1994. Dr. Israel showed a different level of compassion and instruction when my father passed away during my studies. Dr. Israel made the journey to my home to express his sympathies and encouraged me to take whatever time was necessary to be with my family. At the same time, he challenged me to return quickly, and my thesis and coursework did not suffer. He was a true leader, a compassionate man, and a wonderful friend. He will be missed.
Line Dempsey (Eastern Carolina University: M.A., Exercise Physiology '97)