Longtime Baruch administrator, Aaron shifts focus to athletics
Keeping the expansive sports programs running at Baruch College is no easy task. Baruch houses a variety of sports teams—basketball, volleyball, tennis and swimming, to name a few—for its students, male and female. Working behind the scenes to keep competition alive at Baruch—that is, outside of the trading floor—is Dr. Ronald Aaron, who was appointed interim director of the athletics department at Baruch on Aug. 1.
Aaron has always had a preference for college sports where competition dominates. “Professional athletes are similar to entertainers, but in college, especially in a Division-III school, or a non-scholarship program, it’s athletes against athletes,” said Aaron, who believes the focus for Baruch athletes should be on competing, as opposed to winning or losing.
Ultimately, you should play for the love of the game, says Aaron. Through competition, one can learn important human-relation skills.
Prior to his position as interim director of athletics, Aaron served as Baruch’s faculty athletic director as well as the chair of the CUNYAC FAR council; he spent 30 years as an assistant and associate dean of students at the college from 1976 to 2006. Now, he oversees the collegiate athletic program at the college, and his job duties include making sure coaches and players meet in compliance with the rules and policies that are established by the NCAA.
One example of “following the rules” would be the NCAA’s recruitment policies. Each team needs to have a certain number of players on their roster depending on the sport in order to qualify for the league. No two days are the same for Aaron, and each day he is faced with a new issue in a different area of the athletic department.
Throughout his undergraduate career at Hunter College in the Bronx, now known as Lehman College, Aaron played four years for his school’s varsity tennis team and two years for the basketball team. Aaron describes his undergraduate years as the complete college experience, and he remembers his athletic experiences vividly.
While playing sports, he learned what it took to form a commitment with different clubs and organizations, and that it was better to always put in his best effort. Aaron said, “It’s important for people to get involved in the community or college activities without worrying how you can benefit, instead, to think about how you can give back.”.
After four years of undergraduate study, Aaron received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology with the intent of becoming a clinical psychologist, but he had a change of heart and thought it would be best to choose a field where he would feel most content.
His time as an undergraduate, being a part of a college community, always stayed with him. Aaron pursued a Master’s degree in student personnel work at Indiana State University and eventually a doctorate in higher education administration and student development from Indiana University.
For him, athletics are not just about winning and losing, but contribute a lot to a student’s undergraduate experience. “There are a lot of non-graded experiences you learn from sports, some include being a part of a team and learning how to work in groups.” He continued, “Students should get the most out of the collegiate experience, not just by merely focusing on academics, but by getting involved in something else and grow as a person.”
Whether it is playing a sport, or membership in a club, extracurricular participation is something students should appreciate because being involved is a learning experience. Aaron makes a clear distinction between affiliation and leadership-involvement opportunities. “Affiliation is the lowest form of involvement. Being involved is more than something you use to put on a resume. You have to want to be a leader and ultimately excel at what you are doing. Whatever you do, you should do it to the best of your ability.”
Being able to motivate students to take on these types of responsibilities is a skill that Aaron often practices, and if students want to make the best out of their college experience, they should think about taking on a leadership role in a sport or club organization, or perform community service.
When it is all said and done, the main goal is to develop people skills and learn to relate with others.
“Leadership, good communication skills, and involvement … [are] value added experiences.”