Professor, athletic training director R. Mark Laursen to deliver Bridgewater College commencement address

bridgewater collegeR. Mark Laursen, clinical associate professor in Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and director of Athletic Training Services, will provide Bridgewater College’s 2019 commencement address at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4.

The topic of his address will be “What Makes You ‘Be Alive.’”

Approximately 400 seniors and six master’s of science in athletic training students are expected to receive degrees at the commencement exercises, which will take place on the campus mall. The College established its master’s of science in athletic training graduate program in 2017. This year marks the first MSAT cohort to graduate from Bridgewater College.

Rob Stolzman, attorney at Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C. and vice chair of Bridgewater College’s Board of Trustees, will deliver the message at the baccalaureate service at 6 p.m. Friday, May 3, on the campus mall. His topic is: “Tattoos Not Necessary: Imprint the Seal of Bridgewater College Upon Your Heart.”

About R. Mark Laursen

R. Mark Laursen, clinical associate professor in Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Services and director of athletic training services, has followed the call to serve and help people since he was young. While in high school, Laursen volunteered with the athletic training staff at Warren Wilson College, where his father coached the men’s basketball team. That early exposure to a profession focused on helping others solidified Laursen’s career path.

After graduating from Appalachian State University in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in health education and a minor in athletic training, Laursen went on to receive his master of science from Canisius College in 1986. Laursen has spent the majority of his career teaching and performing athletic training at colleges and universities, including his current roles at Boston University. Laursen enjoys the opportunity to teach, treat patients and oversee a great group of clinicians. He also serves as one of 19 faculty members in residence who live in the dormitories on campus.

At Boston University, Laursen has previously served as assistant soccer coach, assistant athletic trainer for the Athletics Department, on-campus coordinator of clinical education for the Athletic Training program, athletic trainer for the men’s basketball team and wrestling team, and clinical assistant professor of Athletic Training. He was also head athletic trainer at Washington College, and was a clinical instructor at the University of South Carolina College of Education/Graduate School. At the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Laursen served as the assistant athletic trainer and an instructor in the Department of Physical Education and Athletics as well as the Peer Educators Training Program.

Laursen has spoken extensively about athletic training practices for the last 30 years at national seminars and conferences. Two of his recent key topics are patient-centered care and independent medical care. “We don’t do medicine to patients anymore, we collaborate with patients to help them reach their goals,” he said.

In terms of professional service, Laursen has served on numerous boards and committees dedicated to athletic training, including serving as President of the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education from 2013-2015. He has also aided high-performing athletes as the Athletic Trainer for the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament, the U.S. Figure Skating Challenge Pre-Olympic Trials Competition and the NCAA Division I Wrestling Tournament, among other competitions.

Laursen holds two awards in the highest esteem because of the people for whom they are named: the Tim Kerin Award for Excellence given by the National Athletic Trainers Association and the Pete Keohneke Award for Leadership given by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. Laursen received both awards in 2017. The late Kerin was a model of service to others, Laursen said, as he supported members of his Knoxville, Tenn., community who were addicted to drugs. Keohneke was one of Laursen’s mentors in graduate school at Canisius College. He taught Laursen that listening is one of the biggest components to being a good athletic trainer and that the goal is to do the best you can each day. Both humanitarian-centered awards get to the heart of Laursen’s dedication to a profession that is steeped in interpersonal relationships and connections.

“The service is what sustains me,” Laursen said. “I think it is a way to serve my fellow man, to make a difference, to influence and to help people grow.”

About Rob Stolzman

Rob Stolzman had never set foot on the Bridgewater College campus until he came to move in as a first-year student in the fall of 1979. A Jewish teenager from Toms River, N.J., Stolzman didn’t have any prior connections to the school. His father wanted him to attend the University of Connecticut. Bridgewater was an unlikely choice, inspired by a piece of mail he got from the College. He decided to ask for more information and received personal calls from the Director of Admissions at the time, Linda Glover, and Dr. James Mumper, who chaired the Department of History and Political Science.

The personal attention and caring community sparked something for Stolzman, and he decided to attend Bridgewater in the fall, sight unseen. In the days before the internet, he could only imagine the community that awaited him. But once he came to campus, he never broke the ties he made with the community he found at Bridgewater.

Now an attorney in Providence, R.I., Stolzman remains close to the College that nurtured him so many years ago and is committed to seeing it do the same for current and future generations of Bridgewater students. He has served on the College’s Board of Trustees since 2004 and became the Vice Chair of the board in 2018.

When Stolzman reflected on his time at the College, he said that he “continually received positive reinforcement and direction” from his professors and the staff. He commented that the relationships he formed were always encouraging him to consider what he was thinking and why. He flourished through the myriad opportunities to get involved on a small campus. He observed that people at Bridgewater, largely Church of the Brethren at the time, “lived out their commitment to their faith and values in a very quiet way,” which would inspire him in ways he only fully appreciated later in life. Stolzman believes that he found connection to his Jewish heritage and began attending synagogue as an adult in part because of the influence that quiet commitment had on him.

After graduating from Bridgewater with a B.A., magna cum laude, in history and political science in 1983, Stolzman attended law school at Washington and Lee University, where he was a Martin P. Burks teaching fellow, earning his J.D. in 1986. After a summer internship at Adler Pollock & Sheehan in 1985, he became employed there after finishing law school in 1986 and has spent his entire 33-year career at the firm. He specializes in government affairs, municipal law, land-use planning and zoning. He served as corporate counsel and secretary of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation from 1992 to 2011.

Stolzman is currently the president of his synagogue, Temple Beth-El, the largest Reform Jewish congregation in Rhode Island. He also serves on the boards of Camp JORI, the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and HousingWorks Rhode Island.

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,900 undergraduate students.



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