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Steven Waller, PhD

Professor and Associate Department Head
Recreation and Sport Management
HPER 325


RSM 430 Organization and Administration of Recreation Services
RSM 511 Personnel Management
RSM 514 Organizational Behavior in Sport Settings
RSM 556 Sport and Religion in Global Society


  • Organizational behavior in public recreation and sport organizations (climate; culture; thriving; diversity, equity and inclusion ethos; institutional evil)
  • Structural barriers to career advancement for minorities and women in recreation and sport organizations
  • Religious socialization as a constraint to recreation and sport participation
  • Professional issues in sports chaplaincy (professionalization, identity development, training, and registration/certification)


DMin United Theological Seminary Pastoral Care and Counseling
MDiv Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Pastoral Care and Counseling
PhD Michigan State University Parks & Recreation Administration
MPA University of Michigan Public Administration
MA Central Michigan University Recreation and Parks Administration
BS Ferris State University Recreation Administration & Rehabilitative Recreation

EXPERIENCE (Last 15 years)

  • The University of Tennessee, assistant professor, associate professor, professor
  • Co-Director, Sport and Religion Research Alliance, KRSS


Jack Mezirow’s Theory of Transformative Learning informs pedagogy in my courses. This theory has evolved into a comprehensive and complex description of how adult learners construe, validate, and reformulate the meaning of their experience. Centrality of experience, critical reflection and rational discourse are three common themes in Mezirow’s theory. In the final analysis, in order for meaningful transformative learning to occur, the teacher and students must be co-partners in creating opportunities for learning.  Students are encouraged to develop a “world view” about their profession and chosen area of practice. Considering the varied learning styles of adult learners, students are challenged to think creatively and independently to address current and future issues confronting the recreation and sport industry.


  • Certificate of Completion, 2021 CEHHS Equity, Inclusion + Justice Summer Institute
  • 2021 Distinguished Service Award, Christian Society for Kinesiology, Leisure and Sport Studies
  • 2017 Literary Award, Christian Society for Kinesiology, Leisure and Sport Studies
  • Service Award – Board of Directors (2015), Christian Society for Kinesiology, Leisure and Sport Studies
  • Faculty Senate Mentoring Award, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (2015)
  • Meritorious Service Award, Board of Directors, Christian Society for Kinesiology and Leisure Studies (2015)
  • Meritorious Service Award, Knox County, Chairman, Knox County Parks and Recreation Board, 2013
  • Diplomate (Fellow), Sports Pastoral Counseling, International Sports Professionals Association, 2013
  • Madge M. Phillips Professional Service Award, KRSS, The University of Tennessee, 2013


  • An exploration of constraints to career mobility among African Americans in recreation and sport organizations
  • Institutional evil and its impact on the culture of recreation and sport organizations
  • An examination of the relationship between the religiosity and spirituality of black fathers who were former high-performing athletes and the religiosity and spirituality of their children engaged in college sports
  • Compassion fatigue and sports chaplains


  • Member, Diversity and Engagement Faculty Advisory Board, UTK Division of Diversity and Engagement
  • Member, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Faculty Advisory Board, CEHHS
  • Chair, Mentoring Committee, College of Education, Health and Human Sciences
  • Board of Directors, Project GRAD Knoxville
  • Board Member, International Sports Chaplaincy Federation
  • Co-Editor, Journal of the Christian Society for Kinesiology, Leisure and Sport Studies
  • Co-Editor, Special Edition on Diversity in Aquatics, International Journal of Aquatics Research and Education
  • Editorial Board: Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism, and Recreation Research; Journal of Public Management and Social Policy;The Cyber Journal of Applied Leisure and Recreation Research; International Journal of Sport Management, Recreation & Tourism, Schole’Journal of Hospitality Leisure, Sport, and Tourism Education


Beasley, L., & Johnson, E. J., & Waller, S. (in press). Sports chaplains and social workers: A theoretical understanding of a necessary component of an interprofessional collaborative practice in sport in the United States. Journal of the Christian Society for Kinesiology, Leisure and Sport Studies.   

Scott, J.L., Waller, S.N., & Wozencroft, A.J. (in press). Professional identity: Race

and gender in recreational therapy. American Journal of Recreation Therapy.

Waller, S.N. (2021). Identity formation as an antecedent to the practice of sports

chaplaincy. In J. Tucker and P. Halstead (Eds.). The sports and play in Christian theology.(pp. 71-92).  Lamham: Lexington Books/Fortress.

Waller, S.N., Wozencroft, A.J., Scott, J.L., Shaw, S., & Picariello, M.* (2020).

An exploratory study of the occupational mobility patterns of African American women working in public sector parks and recreation organizations in the United States. Managing Sport and Leisure, 25(1), 1-23.

Scott, J., Wozencroft, A. & Waller, S. (2020). The relationship between personality and compassion fatigue among future recreational therapists. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 19(1), 1-8.

Beale-Tawfeeq, A., Anderson, A., & Waller, S.N. (2020). Editorial introducing the

Special issue, diversity in aquatics. International Journal of Aquatics Research and Education, 12(31),1-3.

Waller, S.N., Bemiller, J., Johnson, E.,* Cole, C.,* Scott, J.L., & Wozencroft, A.J. (2020). Citizen engagement in aquatics equity: The case of winston waterworks. International Journal of Aquatics Research and Education, 12(31),1-24.

Picariello, M., Angelle, P., Trendafilova, S., Waller, S., & Ziakas, V. (2020). Examining the role of mentoring in women’s career advancement: A qualitative study of women in upper management in the national basketball association. Journal of Global Sport Management. DOI: 10.1080/24704067.2021.1871859.

Love, A., Deeb, A., & Waller, S.N. (2020). In N.J. Watson, G. Jarvie and A. Parker

(Eds). Social justice, sport and racism: A position statement. In Social justice and sport in the 21st century: Religious, sociological and capability perspectives (pp. 131-144). London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.

Waller, S.N. & Bemiller, J. (2018). Navigating rough waters: Discrimination, the law and public swimming pools. International Journal of Aquatics Research and Education. 11(1), 1-15.  

Beale-Tawfeeq, A., Waller, S.N. & Anderson, A. (2018). Guest editors’ introduction to the special issue, diversity in aquatics. International Journal of Aquatics Research and Education. 11(1), 1-4.  

Waller, S.N. (2018). Does church attendance impede Sunday professional football spectatorship among african american men: A case study. International Journal of Religion and Society, 5(3), 1-16.   

Wozencroft, A.J., Waller, S.N., & Kiernozek, K. (2017). Perceived leisure constraints of parents and caregivers of children with disabilities. Journal of Unconventional Parks, Tourism and Recreation Research7(1), 2-10.   

Waller, S. (2017). “Fist, feet and faith”: An ‘elite’ interview with ‘Fight Church’ Pastor Jude Roberts-Part II.  Sport in Society, 20(9),1241-1258.  

Picariello, M., & Waller, S.N. (2016).  The importance of role modeling in mentoring women: Lessons from Pat Summitt’s legacy. Physical Culture and Sport: Studies and ResearchLXXI, 5-13.  

Waller, S.N. , Huffman, L.T., & Hardin, R. (2016). The sport chaplains’ role in the holistic care model for collegiate athletes in the United States, Practical Theology9(3), 226-241.  

Waller, S.N. (2016). Chaplain or sports chaplain first? Why identity formation should matter to sports chaplains. Practical Theology9(3), 242-257.  

Waller, S., & Martin, V. (2016). Research note: Religious doctrine and its influence on the choice to gamble as a leisure pastime among african american methodists. Leisure Studies, 0(0), 1-11.  DOI: 10.1080/02614367.2016.1203351. 

Waller, S.N., Wozencroft, A.J., & Scott, J.L. (2016) Compassion fatigue among disability camp staff: An exploratory study. Annals of Leisure Research, 19(2), 1-16. DOI:10.1080/11745398.2016.1162724.