The Deep Connections of Dr. Mark Baldis to Fresno State began in 1971 when he was just 13 years old. The son of a dedicated professor, Baldis was already putting down roots on campus long before many of the infrastructure changes at the university changed.
“After school, I got on my bike and rode out to Fresno State and hung out in the back of my mom’s classroom doing my homework,” Baldis recalled. “In fact, I taught in the same classroom at the Lab School, right next to my mother’s former office.”
Baldis later earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in kinesiology (exercise science and physical education) from university and a doctorate in health promotion and wellness from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.
Today, Baldis is a longtime lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology, a role he assumed in 2000. In addition to the Department of Kinesiology, Baldis has also made his expertise available to the Departments of Physical Therapy, Biology, Public Health, and Food Science and Nutrition.
Baldis’ dedicated service at the Fresno State campus recently earned him the Provost’s Award in Spring 2022 for outstanding lecturers, as by Dr. Xuanning Fu, provost and vice president for academic affairs for Fresno State. It’s an honor that runs in the Baldis family. His mother, Bette Baldis, received a similar honor while teaching at Fresno State when Baldis was in high school.
“I can remember how honored she was and how proud I was of her,” Baldis said. “I never imagined that as a faculty member at Fresno State, I would be following in her footsteps, let alone being nominated for the same type of award. I can’t imagine how proud she would be of me today.”
His mother, Bette, was one of the pioneers of the deaf education program at Fresno State. Her teaching legacy was profound and inspired Baldis to also teach at the same university.
His teaching career happened to start in his forties. At the time, he was a physical therapy assistant at a local clinic when he got a call from Dr. Catherine Jackson, a longtime (now retired) professor of kinesiology. She was looking for someone to teach Kinesiology 118: Fundamentals of Exercise Physiology part-time and thought Baldis would be the perfect fit for the job due to his extensive exercise science and teaching background combined with his expertise in personal training.
This one-piece course became three courses in the spring semester and later grew into a full course offering, with Baldis teaching full-time. He then taught in various fields including physical therapy, physical education, athletic training and exercise science at bachelor’s and master’s levels. For the past 12 years he has served as Director of the very popular Exercise Science program and also directs the Human Performance Lab on campus.
“I realized that as a teacher, I could actually influence a lot more people,” Baldis said. “I can teach 50 students, and those 50 will go out and work with potentially hundreds of others. By teaching I can reach thousands of people in this way. Standing in front of the classroom, lecturing and asking questions is only 10% of my job, but teaching is my favorite part of the job. So yeah, that’s what really drew me to the job, in addition to the fact that my parents were once teachers too.”
Baldis is particularly passionate about offering internship opportunities to its students. In total, he has directly supervised more than 100 internships. Most notably, he led a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation internship in partnership with Saint Agnes Medical Center, which led many of his alumni to work in cardiac rehabilitation programs statewide.
From teaching to mentoring to coordinating internships, Baldis’ influence has been immense, say many of his former students.
“A great educator can motivate their students to continue their education and pursue their dreams while personally connecting with their students. dr Baldis represents all of these values,” said Vassillios Dimitriopoulos, a 2022 Training Science program graduate. Baldis not only educates his students every day with his well thought out curriculum, but also inspires his students during these lectures.”
The Department of Kinesiology’s exercise science program averages 650 students per year, making it one of the largest offerings on campus. In order to meet the requirements of the popular program, it will soon transition from an elective to a degree program in fall 2023. Baldis has led responsibility for the extensive project, working closely with the Chancellor’s Office and university representatives to coordinate new and existing curriculum changes and integrate new faculty.
Like his mother and Jackson, Baldis wants to pave the way for the next generation of faculty at Fresno State.
“I’m looking at the future of the exercise science program,” Baldis said. “I want to mentor and build new faculties that will eventually take over.”
His dedication to the program, even long after he one day retired, is what sets him apart, said Dr. Michael Coles, professor of exercise science and longtime colleague of Baldis.
“Dr. Year after year, Baldis sets the benchmark for what makes an outstanding faculty and what all faculty should strive for,” said Coles. “His commitment to student success is evident and well-documented, having developed student internships that have translated directly into employment opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. He has demonstrated sustained and exceptional teaching effectiveness and made incredible contributions to the department’s curriculum.”
In 2015, Baldis was instrumental in getting the Exercise Science program recognized as an internationally recognized training program for the professional preparation of strength and conditioning professionals. Recognition by the National Strength and Conditioning Association has since been in effect.
Baldis has also received other important awards, including the Faculty Mentor Award from the College of Health and Human Services in 2012 and the university’s Campus Advisor’s Network Outstanding Adviser Award in 2008, for which he was nominated seven times. He was also trained as a consultant for the university’s Safe Suicide Prevention Program project.
In addition to his academic work, Baldis is active in professional organizations, including the National Certification and Registry Boards Credential Committee for the American College of Sports Medicine and the Central Valley Fuego Futbol Club medical team.
Baldis is one of two Fresno State faculties to receive the 2022 Provost’s Award for Outstanding Instructors. The awards were established in 1993 to recognize excellence in teaching, research and service central to the Fresno State mission.
Award winners provide students with a stimulating environment that encourages learning and validates the university as an intellectual and cultural leader in the Central Valley.
Learn more about the Provost’s Awards and learn more about this year’s honorees at FresnoStateNews.com.