Andy Kozar was the Vol we all aspire to become
[After Andy Kozar’s death on April 28, a team of his close colleagues offered to write an appreciation of this truly exceptional Volunteer, and since we couldn’t hope to do better, here it is.]
Many of you may know Andy Kozar as an outstanding football player on General Robert Neyland’s 1951 National Championship team; we were fortunate to know him as a friend, scholar, colleague, and department head.
Our association with Andy dates back to 1965 when he was a well-respected and popular member of the faculty at the University of Michigan, where he had earned master’s and doctoral degrees. His leadership abilities were already evident, and he was on track to eventually head his department.
Despite a secure future in Ann Arbor, Andy returned to the University of Tennessee in 1966, bringing with him a vision of how a great university could have an impact on the welfare of a state and its citizens. Part of his vision included the development of a laboratory dedicated to the study of exercise and sport, with a focus on the role of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease.
Andy hired one of us (HGW) in 1968 to design a state-of-the-art exercise physiology laboratory to move his vision forward; the other (ETH) joined the faculty in 1970. In 1972 Andy hired Henry J. Montoye, Ph.D., an internationally known scholar in physical activity and health, to complete the critical mass needed to bring the vision to reality.
The laboratory was one of the best in the country and unique, at that time, in the Southeastern Conference. It became a model for many schools to follow. Over the years it achieved national and international recognition and produced a significant number of scholars, teachers, and administrators. The laboratory, with an even sharper focus on research on physical activity and health, continues to be one of the most productive, even after 40-plus years of operation—a true testament to his vision.
Andy believed in service to the profession and community, and he led by example. He was a leading force, in collaboration with Henry Montoye, in the establishment of the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, which Andy served as its first president. Since that time, two exercise science faculty members and six former doctoral students from the laboratory have also served as president of that organization.
Andy left the department in the mid-’70s to serve as the executive assistant to the president of the University of Tennessee. When he returned to the department in the mid-’80s with the title of University Professor, he rejoined the faculty and continued to make his contributions, but this time by focusing on undergraduates. He was our program’s first contact with potential majors in the “Introduction to Exercise Science” class that he developed, and there could not have been a better one. Andy also focused his attention on creating development initiatives for the exercise science program to support graduate students’ research and outreach activities. He was able to attract generous benefactors who were interested in supporting research dealing with physical activity and health. These gifts will continue to support graduate student research and scholarship long into the future.
Central to all of this was Andy’s commitment to academic excellence and his insistence on high standards. His method was to hire good people, give them support, and let them work. He was content to stay in the background, with little concern about who received the credit. However, one of his former students, Davy Bledsoe, created the Andy Kozar Graduate Research Endowment Fund to recognize the impact Andy had had on his life. Each year Kozar scholarships are given to outstanding doctoral students who have demonstrated excellence through their research presentations and publications.
Although Andy’s early research addressed issues related to youth and adult fitness, most of his later scholarship focused on sport art and led to several outstanding accomplishments. A good bit of his life was spent studying Dr. R. Tait McKenzie, a physical educator and physician who was an accomplished sculptor of athletes. Andy’s book The Sport Sculpture of R. Tait McKenzie provides a detailed biography of this artist’s life, with wonderful photos of his work.
Andy went one step further when he brought the Joseph B. Wolffe Collection of R. Tait McKenzie Sculpture of Athletes to the University of Tennessee campus. We encourage everyone to stop by Thornton Student Life Center to view this collection when you are on campus. In 2002 Andy was able to combine his great love of both UT football and his coach in his book Football as a War Game, using General Neyland’s personal notebooks. The book provides unique insights into the life and times of General Neyland and Tennessee football.
Through all of the years we knew Andy, his love for his wife, Marian, and his children, Mary Anne, Amy, and A. J., was topmost in his life. A close second was his love for the University of Tennessee, to which he literally gave his life’s energy. We were recipients of that special energy and we will miss his quick smile, warm greeting, and positive outlook on life.
—Hugh G. Welch, Ph.D., Professor emeritus
—Edward T. Howley, Ph.D., Professor emeritus
Pictured at top, from left to right: Henry Montoye, Ed Howley, Andy Kozar, and Hugh Welch