NEW YORK - Dr. Brent Walker, a leading educator and mental training consultant, has joined the Columbia staff as the Associate Athletics Director for Championship Performance, Dr. M. Dianne Murphy, Director, Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education announced today. A certified and registered sport psychologist, Dr. Walker will direct Columbia's Championship Performance Initiative, designed to help Columbia's varsity teams and more than 700 student-athletes win individual and team championships.

"Brent is an exceptionally talented and accomplished sports psychologist," Murphy said.  "We are thrilled that he will lead our new Championship Performance Initiative.

He brings a wealth of experience and a very diverse skill set that will make an immediate positive impact on the Columbia Athletics program. Brent will be integral in elevating our athletics program to the next level."

Previously an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Sports Studies at Eastern Illinois University, Dr. Walker served as the Graduate Coordinator/Assistant Chair and taught undergraduate and graduate courses such as Psychological Foundations of Coaching, Social Psychology and Physical Activity and Exercise Psychology.

Dr. Walker has provided mental training services for athletes ranging from youth to the professional ranks and has presented over 50 invited mental training seminars nationwide.

From 2000-2010, Dr. Walker conducted sport psychology workshops at national licensing clinics for the Coaching Education Division of the U.S. Soccer Federation and served as the mental training consultant for the U.S. Soccer Paralympic soccer team prior to the Beijing Paralympic Games.

An Executive Board Member for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology since 2010, Dr. Walker has served as a conference abstract reviewer throughout the years.  He also presented both his research and performance enhancement work at multiple AASP conferences.

Dr. Walker earned his doctoral degree in kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2002. He received his master's degree in exercise science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1997, and his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1994 from Bradley University, where he was a two-sport athlete in basketball and baseball.

"We are excited for Brent to join us," Murphy said.  "Brent has the qualities and competencies to make our new Championship Performance Initiative a tremendous success."