School of Professional Studies

Health Promotion & Exercise Sciences

HPX Faculty

Robyn Housemann, PhD, MPH; Department Co-Chair: Professor, Coordinator of Holistic & Integrative Health Option in BS Health Promotion Studies

Robyn A. Housemann is Department Chair and Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Exercise Sciences at Western Connecticut State University. She received a BS degree (URI, 1981) in Electrical Engineering, an MPH degree (SLU, 1994), and a Ph.D. (SLU, 2000) in Health Services Research (Behavioral Science/Health Education and Organizational Psychology). She has over 30 years of experience teaching group fitness classes and is an advocate for Holistic and Alternative Health.

Dr. Housemann has been at WCSU since August 2006 and has taught all of the core courses for the Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion Studies, Cross-cultural Health and Healing, Energy Healing Therapies, Worksite Health and the Fitness for Life general education requirement. In 2007 she redesigned the curriculum for the HPS degree to a competency and service-learning focused set of core courses. In addition to teaching, Dr. Housemann has been involved in the Western Connecticut Community Report Card Project, the Hancock Student Leadership Program, WCSU Hearts Haiti, the HPX club, and was the director for the Institute of Holistic Health Studies.

Prior to coming to WCSU, Dr. Housemann participated in several applied research projects and community based interventions. She was the Director of Planning and Evaluation for the New England Division of the American Cancer Society for three years. She spent 10 years working at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Public Health and six years at Washington University (WU) School of Medicine Master of Health Science Program. Her primary area of focus was in reducing heart disease and diabetes by facilitating community based interventions to increase physical activity, promote healthy eating, reduce smoking, and improve diabetes self-management. These intervention programs targeted change at the individual level and beyond by creating environments that made healthy choices easy choices (e.g. walkable communities, healthy food in grocery stores, smoke-free churches, menu labeling in restaurants) and by increasing social capital within a community by training informal and formal leaders to be health advocates. In her spare time, Robyn teaches Zumba, Zumba Toning and Aqua Zumba fitness classes. She is a Black Belt 2nd dan in Tae Kwon Do and a Usui and Karuna Reiki Master/Teacher. She also volunteers for various community events.
Berkshire 230D, Midtown campus
(203) 837-8882
(203) 837-8638 (fax)



Emily Stevens, PhD; Department Co-Chair: Associate Professor, Coordinator of Allied Health Option in BS Health Promotion Studies

Dr. Emily Stevens has been a member of the HPX faculty since 2009. She is coordinator of the Community Health Option in BS Health Promotion Studies, the coordinator of the Faculty & Staff Wellness Program, and the HPX Department website coordinator. She is an avid runner, lacrosse player, and soccer player.

Dr. Stevens completed her Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science at Denison University (2001). She completed her Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Health and Exercise Science, with a concentration in Health and Physical Activity Promotion, at The Ohio State University (2006). Her master’s thesis examined the association between youth sport experiences and physical activity adherence into adulthood. For her dissertation, Dr. Stevens developed and evaluated a theory-based physical activity intervention for high school students living in the Appalachian region of Ohio. Her research focuses on physical activity promotion among adolescents, including an examination of determinants of physical activity, the development and evaluation of theory-based interventions designed to promote physical activity, and the development of methods to measure physical activity behavior. She has presented her research at conferences for several national organizations, including the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Health Behavior, and The American Public Health Association. She is actively involved in publishing her work and has contributed to several articles already in press.

Prior to coming to Western Connecticut State University, Dr. Stevens served as a Graduate Research Assistant, Graduate Teaching Assistant, and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Health and Exercise Science Department at The Ohio State University. As a Graduate Research Assistant, Dr. Stevens worked on a federally funded grant aimed at developing, implementing, and evaluating a physical activity intervention in an urban community using a community participatory approach. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, she taught non-majors courses to undergraduate students in the Sport, Fitness, and Health program run by the School of Physical Activity and Educational Services. Upon completing her PhD, Dr. Stevens spent three years as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Ohio State. During that time, she taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in the Health and Exercise Science Department. She remained active in her research interests through small grants and by advising undergraduate students completing honors projects and doctoral candidates completing dissertation projects.
Berkshire 230E, Midtown campus
Main Office #: (203)837-8612
Office #: (203)837-3903
(203) 837-8638 (fax)



Dr. Jeff Schlicht: Professor, Coordinator of Wellness Management Option in BS Health Promotion Studies

Dr. Jeff Schlicht has been a member of the HPX faculty since 2000. He is coordinator of the Wellness Management Option in the Health Promotion Studies BS program, asssists students with the campus-wide ROCKyourBODY initiative, and runs community exercise programs for older adults and adults with disabilities.

Dr. Schlicht completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego (1988), a Masters of Arts in Physical Education at San Diego State University (1994), and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Sport, Leisure, and Exercise Science at the University of Connecticut (1999). His doctoral dissertation examined the effect of strength training exercise on functional fitness in older adults. He continues to do community research with older adults and has expanded his interests to working with adults with disabilities.
Berkshire 230A, Midtown campus
(203) 837-8687
(203) 837-8638 (fax)






Ethan K. Balk, PhD, RD: Assistant Professor

Dr. Ethan Balk is an Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Exercise Science in the HPX department at WCSU.
He completed his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science (2002) and Masters of Science in Education, with a focus in Physical Education (2008) at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL.

Upon graduating from his master’s program, he was recruited to design and teach a new career tech program at the Career and Technology Education Center (C-TEC) in Newark, Ohio (2008-2011). The 2-year high school program entitled, Physical Therapy and Exercise Science, trained juniors and seniors in exercise prescription and rehabilitation preparing them to sit for a personal training certification post-graduation.
Dr. Balk earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology from The Ohio State University (2015) with a concentration in Physical Activity Behavior and completed his Registered Dietetic Internship and Examination through the OSU Department of Human Nutrition.

His dissertation evaluated psychosocial factors, rooted in the Social Cognitive Theory, common to treatment-seeking bariatric surgery patients. His current research focuses on physical activity and diet behavior change in high-risk populations (particularly, severe/morbidly obese patients and bariatric patients), including examining the influence of psychosocial correlates on physical activity and diet behavior change, as well as, the development and evaluation of theory-based interventions to promote physical activity and diet behavior change adherence and maintenance at the in-patient and out-patient level.

In addition to his work at WCSU, Dr. Balk is a clinical dietitian at the Yale Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Center at Yale New Haven Hospital. He sees pre- and post-surgery bariatric patients, providing medical nutrition therapy, nutrition counseling, and is actively involved in research with the center’s patient population.

He has presented research at conferences for several national and international organizations including the American College of Sports Medicine, North American Primary Care Research Group, and The Obesity Society/American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Dr. Balk is actively involved in on-going research and dissemination of findings through multiple publications in the Health Behavior and Nutrition fields.
Berkshire 230B, Midtown campus
Main Office #: (203)837-8612
Office #: (203) 837-8985
(203) 837-8638 (fax)



Krista Heybruck, MPH: Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Community Health Option in BS Health Promotion Studies

Professor Krista Heybruck joined the HPX full-time faculty in fall of 2016. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education from the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh (1991), and a Master of Public Health degree in Health Promotion and Education from the University of South Carolina (1994). Professor Heybruck brings with her over 20 years of experience in community-based health promotion and education, human and social services, and public education.

She has worked on national, state, and local levels with diverse audiences in a number of different settings including universities, colleges, urban and rural public schools, health departments, state agencies, federal health agencies, alternative education and community-based programs, and prison facilities. Prior to her appointment at WCSU, Professor Heybruck served as the Director of Research to the largest community action agency in Connecticut. For nine years, she researched the health and human service needs of residents living in 40 Connecticut towns to determine needs and improve access to services.

Her current research interests include environmental, community, organizational and behavioral interventions to teen pregnancy, STD/I, and HIV/AIDS prevention among middle and low-income adolescents and adults, community capacity building, and health disparities.
Berkshire 230f, Midtown Campus
phone to follow
(203) 837-8638 (fax)



Patricia McDiarmid, EdD: Assistant Professor, Coordinator of the Health Education in BS Health Promotion Studies

Berkshire 230c, Midtown Campus

Main Office #: (203)837-8612
Office #: (203) 837-
(203) 837-8638 (fax)



Denise Colaianni, RN, MA: Internship Coordinator

Denise Colaianni has been a faculty member at Western Connecticut State University since September 2001. She completed her BSN in Nursing from City College of New York and her MA in Nursing Education from New York University.

During this period she has served as an adjunct professor, special appointment assistant professor and currently as internship coordinator for the BS Health Promotions program. She has served as faculty advisor to the HPX Club and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and received the 2001-2002 Adjunct Special Recognition Award from the School of Professional Studies and the 2007 Certificate of Appreciation from the School of Professional Studies.

Prior to her time with WCSU she was an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Fairfield University, Administrator/Clinical Supervisor of Visiting Nurse Service of Ridgefield Ct., Administrator of Roncalli Home Health Care in Bridgeport CT, Assistant Director of Education, Patient Service Manager and staff public health nurse with Visiting Nurse Service of New York and staff nurse at St. Lukes Hospital in New York.

Additionally she has served as Board member of Interfaith Aids Ministry of Danbury, Board of Incorporators of Ridgefield District Nurses, and has been a Girl Scout leader since 1997.
Berkshire 112, Midtown campus
(203) 837-8360
(203)837-8638 (fax)



Julie Perrelli, PhD,: Assistant Professor, HPX Special Appointment
Berkshire 112, Midtown campus
(203) 837-8360
(203)837-8638 (fax)




Faculty Emeritus and Adjunct Faculty



Jody Rajcula, Faculty Emeritus

Jody Rajcula Professor Jody Rajcula was named to Faculty Emeritus of the HPX Department in 2016 after a 30-year tenure at WCSU. She served as the department chair for 8 years and women’s basketball coach for 21 years.

She earned both her Bachelor and Master Degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and was promoted to full Professor at WCSU in 1998.







Adjunct Faculty

Henry Alviti
Christel Autuori
Lara Azzarito Ward
Lisa Barker
Tricia Blood
Robert Burkhart
Melissa Dalton
John Debenedetto
Alexandra Hall
Helen Hollenbeck
Chuck Housemann
Barbara Lohse
Lisa Morrissey
Deana Paqua
Jennifer Turey