Dee Gillen:

Coordinator for Faculty Staff Fitness, as well as instructor for Kinesiology and Physical Activity Courses (PAC).

Years at OSU: 5

City of residence: Corvallis

Faculty Staff Fitness has been helping Oregon State faculty and staff get into shape for 35 years. From dance to yoga to weight training, the offerings are a popular way for the campus community to fit a lunch or after-work class into their daily schedule.

Dee Gillen is the coordinator for Faculty Staff Fitness, as well as instructor for Kinesiology and Physical Activity Courses (PAC). Usually, the best part of her work day was gathering for FSF classes and exercising with her students. But when COVID-19 dramatically changed spring term, Gillen had to cancel all FSF offerings, and tell her instructors they would potentially have no work, and no income, for the term.

“It was a big concern that our valued participants were missing out on their fitness regimens and my instructors were missing out on work and hourly pay,” Gillen said. So she and other staff members began to brainstorm how to bring FSF online.

“I wanted the accessibility to be easy for our participants and our instructors,” she said. “I had to figure out a platform, staffing, and how to use technology from home. We didn’t have the luxury of a videographer or sound systems.”

They decided to offer an unlimited three month package for $20, allowing OSU faculty and staff to take as many online courses as they wanted, ranging from low-impact, gentle exercises to cardio kickboxing. Gillen spent long hours over spring break preparing their new website for launch, coordinating with instructors and communicating with participants, as well as creating marketing plans.

“This was a big learning process,” Gillen said. “I had to work with FSF participants on how to navigate on the site and stay successful in their fitness. I learned a good amount of how to help others with their information technology to use the site. I also had to help my instructors on how to record, upload, organize and categorize their classes on the platform. I feel I have learned so much about videography and technology.”

And the work paid off.

“Our entire team has received an overwhelming positive response from the FSF community. They have been grateful to have a variety of fitness options delivered easily to their homes,” Gillen said. “Many have said that online FSF was a reason they are staying sane. We finally had the opportunity to share FSF with extension faculty and staff and those whose schedules never worked with our class schedule. It’s been very positive.”

According to Alex Aljets with Information Services, Gillen’s outreach to the campus community and her dedication to fitness has been amazing.

“Dee exemplifies the creativity and initiative that will get OSU through this tough time. I particularly appreciate the authenticity and genuine care for others that shows through in her videos and communications,” Aljets said. “Rather than polished and formal, Dee connects with faculty and staff as a parent, educator, and fellow human while inspiring us all to stay healthy and active while working away from campus.”


~ Theresa Hogue