Ron's Story

Ron Zwierlein, Director – Department of Recreational Sports (1991-94)
Director – University Field House and Recreational Sports (1990-92)
Associate Director – Student Recreation Center (1984-91)

In April 2014 the Department of Recreation and Wellness honored Dr. Ron Zwierlein for his service by naming the "Male Student Employee of the Year" award in his honor. Below are statements and stories provided by former Department of Recreational Sports (now Department of Recreation and Wellness) colleauges that testify to Dr. Zwierlein's character, commitment, and sense of humor. 

Ron Zwierlein, Casey Back, Steve Kampf
2013-14 Recreation and Wellness Male Student Employee of the Year Award Recipient. (L to R: Dr. Ron Zwierlein, Casey Beck, Dr. Steve Kampf)

His dedication and service to BGSU is exemplary, and his contributions are countless in the many roles that he played.Congratulations to Ron for the occasion of naming the "Male Student Employee of the Year" in his honor. Certainly the qualifications and criteria for the award describe the attributes and qualities of Ron. His dedication and service to BGSU is exemplary, and his contributions are countless in the many roles that he played:

  • Undergraduate student as Freddie Falcon (maybe it was Freda!) 
  • Head Swim Coach
  • Associate Director of the Student Recreation Center, then Director of Recreational Sports
  • Vice President for Student Affairs
  • Athletic Director

One of Ron’s strongest characteristics is that there is no such thing as a “short conversation” with Ron. He would always stop and talk with you, or have a lengthy conversation on the phone. He’d asked about you and what is going on in your life. He showed he cares and always had some good advice. He had a profound impact on all of the students who came in contact with him. And, he’d always remember the next time he talked with you.

Several colleagues have mentioned his sense of humor, which is very right on. He also was a practical joker too…which is my story:

Several BGSU colleagues went on an annual spring golf trip down by Columbus just before Memorial Day each year. 25-30 guys would go to a course that was owned by a former BGSU employee, so he took good care of us, and to save money he’d let us stay in the pro shop overnight rather than a hotel. So one year, I had my new air mattress all blown up and was very comfortable, more so than most who just brought sleeping bags…Ron included. So when I woke up in the morning, my back was killing me as all the air was out of the mattress….I looked and looked for a tear in the bottom. I glanced over to Ron and he was beside himself laughing and very proud of himself, as he confessed he opened the valve up after I fell asleep. He has that little kid quality inside himself…even today.

Gregory T. Jordan, Director
Dept. of Campus Recreation
Oakland University


Always 110% committed, always going above and beyond, always consistently out-performing, and always providing extraordinary customer service. This is just the way Ron Zwierlein is…  I have known Ron, or Dr. Z or simply “Z” for nearly 30 years now and what a fitting tribute to the quality of his character to name an outstanding student employee of the year in his honor.  First of all, the winning recipient of this award must know how to correctly say Ron’s last name (Z-W-I-E-R-L-E-I-N…), and then correctly spell his name. If they can accomplish those two tasks, then you can assess whether they meet the other criteria.

When I reviewed the necessary criteria to be worthy of this award, I thought about all of the things I learned from Ron. Always 110% committed, always going above and beyond, always consistently out-performing, and always providing extraordinary customer service. This is just the way Ron Zwierlein is…  And talk about a character that shines! When Dr. Z is present you know it. When the outstanding student of the year is on duty, you should know that too! 

What I always appreciated and learned from “Z” is that you can enforce the rules, protect the mission, set the example, and do all of that with a smile and even (in Ron’s case), a sense of humor. All, outstanding qualities and all qualities that I assume the student employee of the year will possess.

You asked for a favorite story or memory that comes to mind, and after so many years there were many, but one which I feel is very appropriate and in many ways connected to this award is the following…

When my wife and I first moved to Bowling Green, and I was beginning my first campus recreation professional job, Ron and his wife, Cindy, invited us over for dinner. They had a very nice home and 3small children. When they showed us around their home, we got to the garage and I noticed yellow and black caution tape on the floor about 2 feet from the wall on all three sides (except where the garage door opens and closes). I also noticed all the bicycles, outside toys, lawn equipment, etc. all neatly placed “outside” the yellow and black tape, never allowing anything to get too close to their cars. I asked Ron, “what’s up with the tape?” Having no children at the time, he proceeded to educate us that when you have children you have to have order, rules, places for everything––generally, keep everything organized.  Isn’t that exactly what the student employee of the year should be doing? Keeping everything organized (neat, orderly, enforce the rules)… I can clearly see the irony! And what a fitting award for an outstanding student because the way Ron Zwierlein is at home was exactly what he was like at work––organized in everything and in every way––excellence! 

Scott Levin, Director
Recreational Services
Georgia State University


In my four years at Bowling Green, Ron demonstrated outstanding leadership, a forward thinking vision, an appreciation of student development and team work.I have known Ron Z since 1986. I could tell the minute I ended the interview that he would be a great person to work for. He had a warm smile, great sense of humor and really showed his commitment to the BGSU program. In my four years at Bowling Green, Ron demonstrated outstanding leadership, a forward thinking vision, an appreciation of student development and team work. Ron role modeled strong organization and communication skills to students. Ron was the perfect coach. He demanded commitment but allowed students to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Ron was always recognizing staff for their positive actions and really spent time to know the staff on a personal and professional level.

My most memorable story, that I still tell people, goes to Ron's humor and his ability to laugh with you….

I was 8 months pregnant and still teaching water aerobics in the pool. Ron and I would laugh how it must look with me teaching with my big belly and trying to do the moves on the deck. I finally decided to start doing the aerobics in the pool. One night, as I was teaching in the pool, Ron made an announcement over the intercom that we had a blue whale in the pool so please evacuate immediately. Needless to say, my class had a good laugh, and thank goodness no one took him seriously.

Ron's ability to establish relationships makes moments like the above memorable.  

Tamra Garstka, Director
Sun Devil Fitness Complex
Tempe Arizona State University