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Retirement 101

HESRM professor retires
but doesn't slow down

By Johnny McMillan

After 25 years of service to the University of Mississippi and the School of Applied Sciences' Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, Jim Gilbert has retired, and according to friend and colleague Mark Loftin, he is adapting to retirement very well.

"Jim retired last July, and he did it right. He was immediately off to Italy for a month or so," said Loftin, who is now HESRM chair. "He got his bucket list going quick!"

With plans to attend several events at the 2012 Olympic Games in and around London, it doesn't look like Gilbert has any intention of slowing down.

"I'm excited to revisit England and especially the small towns. I'm looking forward to traveling again, and not like touristy trips on buses, being led around with 20 people I don't know, but travel by car, maybe jumping on the Queen Mary [in Long Beach, Calif.] or something like that," Gilbert said. "It's about getting up when I want to and going to bed when I want to. To put it in a nutshell, after his second term as president, Teddy Roosevelt said, 'I'm looking forward to retirement because it will allow me to be a boy again,' and I'm thinking, 'Teddy, what a great line.'"

During his time as professor, Gilbert was well liked and well respected.

"He gets along well with faculty, staff and students, but he's no pushover either," Loftin said. "He's been a leader in park and recreation programs in Oxford, as well as in the state; he walks around town, and everybody knows him. I wouldn't be surprised if the governor knows him personally!"

Gilbert, now professor emeritus, is not slowing down entirely from the university, either. He's teaching a class on campus this semester and has teaching plans for the future, too.

Gilbert has influenced lives through teaching for more than 45 years. Prior to joining the Ole Miss community, he taught middle school science and elementary physical education, and coached middle school track and basketball. During his 25-plus years on the Oxford campus, Gilbert taught a wide variety of courses such as Design and Maintenance of Facilities, First Aid and CPR.

"Jim Gilbert was one of our founding faculty as we established the School of Applied Sciences in 2001, and he held a number of leadership positions before retiring," said Linda Chitwood, dean of the school.

During his tenure as the park and recreation management program director, the undergraduate program was granted initial accreditation through the National Recreation and Park Association.

Gilbert also served as program director of the National Youth Sports Program on the Ole Miss campus. For more than 13 years, NYSP brought more than 300 youth each summer to the campus for a four-week math, science and health education camp.

While at Ole Miss, Gilbert received more than $675,000 in grants funded through external and internal sources, including grants for the NYSP for 10 consecutive years. He has published articles on topics ranging from gambling college athletes to the benefits of deep-water exercise for ambulatory-impaired adults. He also provided a varied host of services to the university, from directing construction of the Young Scholars Trail at the Biological Field Station to serving as a faculty senator for the School of Education.

"Jim freely gave of his time and talents for the promotion of recreation within Mississippi and nationally during his Ole Miss tenure. Now, we wish for him good health and an abundance of time to pursue his own recreational interests," Chitwood said.

Those recreational interests sometimes include the more typical, mundane chores such as working around the house and yard.

"You need to understand that my No. 1 goal is to not be the 'Gardener of the Month,'" Gilbert joked. "And as for my time at the university, Ole Miss was good for me. I hope I was good for it."

Jim Gilbert

Jim Gilbert

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