Nancy Navar--teacher, mentor, colleague, advisor, ground-breaker, dreamer. For years, Dr. Nancy Navar has been a dedicated, tireless leader and an outstanding educator in the field of Therapeutic Recreation. Since 1986, she has been at the heart of the successful Therapeutic Recreation program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL).
Nancy was raised by parents who immigrated from Lithuania and settled in a suburb of Cleveland, OH. She received her BS in Elementary Education from the University of Dayton, taught school, and then earned an MS in Therapeutic Recreation from Indiana University (IU). She was a practitioner at the St. Lawrence Community Mental Health Center and at the State Technical Institute and Rehabilitation Center in Michigan before enrolling at IU to receive her Doctorate in Recreation. Nancy's dissertation on," professional**" would have a long-lasting effect on the field of therapeutic recreation.
Nancy taught at Central Michigan University, Michigan State University, and the University of Illinois before finding her academic home at UWL. This turned out to be the perfect environment for a person who famously had students wade into the marsh to get a better notion of the workings of the wetlands, graded papers in the woods, and spent her weekends in the Green Cathedral. Every day, she could cross the Mississippi River, pass through wetlands, and head towards the bluffs on her commute to school. It was also a place where Nancy's ideas of a TR curriculum could merge with those of the UWL TR faculty, and flourish.
Nancy has received numerous awards at the university, state, and national levels including:NTRS Distinguished Service Award, Excellence in Education Award for UWL, TR curriculum from ATRA, Who's Who in American Education, Who's Who Among America's Teachers, Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare, and the Bush Leadership Fellow Award. She has acted as a representative for Wisconsin Interaction with Industry, State of Wisconsin Medicare program, and was part of the UWL delegation to Guanxi, China province. In 200", Dr. Navar was the Distinguished Visiting Professor at Eastern Washington University.
Dr. Navar has delivered over 100" presentations including.... to people around the world. Has contributed ** articles to professional publications.
She has always been an eager learner and avid notetaker, so it was no surprise when she headed back to college at UW-Stout to work on her degree as a marriage and family therapist, while providing counseling at Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse. And it was no surprise that she supported the efforts of Dr. Fran Stanat Coffee to establish a Therapeutic Recreation program at the Southern Institute of Technology in New Zealand.
Perhaps Nancy's most unique contribution to the UWL Therapeutic Recreation program came via the U.S. Department of Education. The Leisure Lifestyle Center was established in 1997 through a grant proposal written by Nancy. The LLC enabled students to work with clients from the community****. In addition, grant proposals written by Nancy have funded the puppets and programming for Kids on the Block, and Arts for All.
It is hard to imagine the kind of TR programs that would exist in the upper Midwest without Dr. Navar's influence. Former students who are now colleagues are making a difference at agencies serving the elderly, people with mental illness, people with intellectual disabilities, and criminal offenders. Countless former students make their way back to UWL to keep in touch with their former professor, and current friend. As a current member of the ATRA Board of the Directors, Nancy is as dedicated as she ever was to her profession. I do not believe that the Therapeutic Recreation profession would be where it is today without her.
by Patricia Ardovino
Associate Professor, Therapeutic Recreation, University of Wisconsin--LaCrosse