Matt Hickey with Western Carolina University Chancellor Kelli R. Brown.
Story by Melanie Threlkeld McConnell, Western Carolina University
Matthew Hickey, Colorado State University’s interim associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Health and Human Sciences and professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science, received the 2019 Academic Achievement Award from Western Carolina University during an alumni Homecoming ceremony Oct. 26 in Cullowhee, North Carolina.
Hickey graduated summa cum laude with an undergraduate degree in sport management from WCU in 1988. Born and raised in New York, Hickey attended the State University of New York – Cortland for two years, before following a friend to WCU who was transferring to play football. “He said, ‘Do you want to transfer?’ I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ So, all part of my long-term strategy,” Hickey said after receiving his award.
Nudge to academia
Hickey credited his former WCU professor Art Pilch for nudging him into a life of academia, even though Hickey wasn’t sure that’s where he wanted to go. Pilch even set up an interview for Hickey at Virginia Tech for graduate school without his knowledge. “Art planted the seeds, opened the door, shoved me through it,” Hickey said. “I think I still might have his footprint located somewhere.”
Hickey earned his doctorate in bioenergetics at Ball State University in Indiana before returning to North Carolina for a four-year post-doctoral fellowship at East Carolina University. He accepted his first tenure-track position in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in 1997.
Career at CSU
At CSU, Hickey has served as director of the Human Performance Clinical Research Laboratory and professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science for the past 20 years, as chair of the sole institutional review board and, more recently, of the biomedical institutional review board. He also is a member of the Bioethics Advisory Committee and has chaired several special emphasis panels for the National Cancer Institute. As of August, he is interim associate dean for research and graduate education in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences. Hickey is also a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at CSU.
During the award presentation, Hickey also thanked his now-deceased father for his influence on him and others. “I bear his fingerprints and I always will,” Hickey said. “For all of his life, my dad was an educator and a mentor and a friend to me and to many other people. I certainly wouldn’t be standing here without him and without his influence on me. Part of my commitment to education and my journey through the academy is a commitment to his legacy and to continue to carry that on.”
Hickey has been married to his wife, Loretta, for 10 years; both were widowed in 2000. Their blended family includes Jonathan, 28, and Meghan, 20.