Q&A: Patrick Wempe aims to challenge, inspire his graduate students

Dr. Patrick Wempe is a professor within the Sport Administration program.

Please tell us a little about yourself and describe your background in your respective field.

I was raised on a farm near Kingsley, Iowa. I attended the University of South Dakota, receiving my B.S. degree in Therapeutic Recreation, my M.S. degree in Exercise Science/Cardiac Rehabilitation, and my Ed.D in Adult and Higher Education. My background stems from my work with MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) on Navy bases — multiple experiences with recreation services at the VA (Veterans Administration) hospitals. I served on the tourism board for the state of South Dakota.

What is your favorite aspect of teaching?

I love working with young people and watching them learn. I take on a servant leadership model, serving the students in a way that allows each student to achieve their professional aspirations.

Please share something unique about yourself that most people don't know.

In the past, I have been a certified playground safety instructor with a certification through the National Recreation Parks Association. I provided advocacy for schools and inspected playgrounds for safety standards. I have even been a professional witness in court cases where injuries occurred.

What career paths do students from the graduate courses you teach typically pursue?

There are multiple directions our graduates use the M.S. in Sport Administration. They pursue management in municipal recreation (not-for-profit) and sport management (for-profit) professional settings. Other students have used their degrees to become collegiate coaches, and finally, students who pursue athletic directors or athletic administration within scholastic and collegiate settings.

Why should a student choose Henderson State to pursue a graduate degree?

Our faculty's diversity allows students to pursue areas of management, coaching, and even sports science. Our faculty comes from all across the United States with vast experience and practical learning options for each student. We treat each student as an individual, promoting the best learning option.

What are the ways a graduate degree can enhance a person's career?

Advanced training and education will always benefit the student for future endeavors. The learning of hands-on applications, such as completing a business, marketing, facility, and leadership plan, is an example. Allowing each student to personalize and have experiential learning no matter the area of sport their professional interests guide them is important.

What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about being a professor?

The challenge of being a professor is finding the right balance of rigor and challenge for each student. Our students may seek different outcomes and purposes for completing their master's degree, so we should convert the experiential learning to match each student. The most rewarding thing about being a professor is watching them grow and excel right before my eyes, eventually graduating. Watching students achieve their goals and walking across the stage is very rewarding.

What advice would you give to students aspiring to seek a graduate degree?

Be prepared to be challenged and inspired. I always say that Henderson State is like attending a private school because of the faculty-to-student ratios. We care and treat each student as an individual.

How can students make the most of their college experience while studying for their graduate degree at Henderson?

Some of my mentors have always said, "You get out of it what you put into it." It's a bit cliché, but it's also very true. The opportunity for application-based learning provides a unique learning experience for each student.

Can you please share a brief success story related to your students or experiences at Henderson?

When I arrived at Henderson State in 2005, I had a student in my sport administration courses looking for guidance to better themselves. I challenged this student, and eventually, the student became a collegiate assistant coach, a sports information director, an NCAA compliance officer, and finally, an athletic director at a major NCAA Division II institution in the mid-south.

Who inspires you and why?

An easy question to answer: this person is my mom. She began as a country one-room school teacher in rural South Dakota. She eventually earned her undergraduate degree and served as a 6th-grade teacher for just over 40 years of service. She is the model by which I measure my professionalism.

For more information about Henderson State's Sport Administration, visit hsu.edu/sportadmin.