Gary Ellis serves as Head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University, a position that he has held since June of 2008. Previously, he served as professor and chair of the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism at the University of Utah. He was a member of the University of Utah faculty from 1985 to 2008, and served on the faculty of Western Kentucky University from 1983-1985. He earned his doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of North Texas in 1983 and he holds masters and baccalaureate degrees in Recreation and Park Administration from Eastern Kentucky University and from the University of Kentucky, respectively.  

Gary has served a number of leadership roles in professional organizations. He currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. Previous leadership roles in professional organizations include President of the Society of Park and Recreation Educators, President of the Academy of Leisure Sciences, and Treasurer of the Academy of Leisure Sciences. He founded that National Quiz Bowl competition in parks and recreation. Gary has served on numerous editorial boards for professional journals and has held leadership roles in state associations. Gary has contributed over 90 peer-reviewed publications, has published software, and has generated significant support for teaching, research, and training through grants and partnerships. His research interests are in staging recreation experiences for memorable and transformational outcomes. 

Recognitions that Gary has received include the Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt Research Award; service as the JB Nash Distinguished Lecturer; the National Therapeutic Recreation Society Professional Research Award; the University of Utah College of Health Outstanding Scholar Award; the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Eastern Kentucky University College of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics; the Faculty Award from the Department of Health Promotion and Education at the University of Utah; the Utah Recreation and Park Association Service to the Profession Award; and the Senior Leadership and Academic Excellence in Recreation Award from Eastern Kentucky University. He has held adjunct professor appointments at Clemson University, Columbia University, and in the Department of Health Promotion and Education at the University of Utah.