Remembering Dee Edington
Dr. Dee Edington, former Kinesiology director, professor, and renowned health and wellness researcher, passed away in June 2022. He was 84 years old.
Edington received his BS in mathematics from Michigan State University, MS in physical education from Florida State University, and PhD in exercise physiology from Michigan State University. He began teaching at the University of Michigan in 1976, and in 1977 was appointed chair of the Physical Education program, which at the time was housed in the School of Education.
In 1978, Edington founded the Health Management Research Center (HMRC), which became a worldwide leader in discovering how health choices influence total health and productivity, quality of life, vitality, and health care economics throughout a lifetime. For nearly 40 years, the HMRC provided the scientific basis for organizational health. Its accomplishments, along with Edington’s work, continue to impact people across the healthcare spectrum and in every industry.
In 1984, the university separated Physical Education from the School of Education, and Edington became the first director of the Division of Physical Education. In 1990, the U-M Board of Regents officially approved the Division of Kinesiology as a stand-alone, degree-granting unit with Edington at the helm.
Dr. Tom Templin, retired professor of Kinesiology, was a PhD student in 1976 and recalled Edington as a "change agent."
"I remember his first faculty meeting as director of our unit. He asked the faculty to name the top ten programs in the country and Michigan wasn't named by those in attendance. He stated that his goal—our goal—should be within that ranking and ultimately become the top program in the US,” Templin said. “We have come a long way since Dee took on that position and we should all be grateful for his vision, leadership, and contributions to the fields of kinesiology and public health."
Dr. Jeff Horowitz, professor of Movement Science, agreed that Edington was "an excellent leader who clearly put the school on a trajectory for success."
He also pointed to Edington’s significant research contributions. "His shift from conducting complex mechanistic research in exercise physiology to his high-impact work aimed at improving health and wellness in the workplace is truly impressive," Horowitz said. "This is a testament to his passion, vision, and abilities to promote health and well-being in very different ways. He will be sorely missed."
Edington was the author or co-author of more than 800 articles and presentations. He also wrote several books, including Zero Trends: Health as a Serious Economic Strategy and Shared Values–Shared Results: Positive Organizational Health as a Win-Win Philosophy.
Edington’s expertise earned him high-profile awards, including Distinguished Contribution to the Science of Health Risk Appraisal, Society of Prospective Medicine; One-Hundred Health Industry Leaders VIP Award; Michigan State University Distinguished Alumnus, School of Education and Kinesiology Career Award; Lifetime Achievement Award–Governor’s Award, State of Michigan; Distinguished Career Award, Woodward Lecture, US Navy Medical; and the Excellence and Innovation in Value Purchasing Award, National Business Group on Health.
Edington is survived by his wife Marilyn, son David (Stacie), and grandchildren Kaiya and Dylan. In recent years, anyone Edington spoke with would hear about his love for his family, including the tremendous joy that his grandchildren brought to his life.