Greg Jordan, the director of university recreation and well-being at Oakland University, answers a few of our questions.
1. How did you get started in the industry?
I transferred to Indiana University my junior year of college. I was a physical education major and planned to be a gym teacher. One day I walked into the Health, Physical Education and Recreation building at IU and saw a sign saying, “Need a job, why don’t you try officiating Intramural Sports? $1.65 per game.” This was in 1973, so $1.65 was big money. I needed a job, so I walked into the IM office, filled out an application and was hired. That was my first job in collegiate recreation. I worked my way up the chain of command with programming areas. Which then turned into a graduate assistantship at Indiana. Then upon graduation, timing is everything and I got a full time job at IU.
2. Throughout your time at Oakland University, what is one of the biggest changes that has been made within University Recreation and Well-Being?
I am going to put it in the context of programming and the offering that we have within our facilities. This is true at Oakland, and I also think it is true around the country that traditional intramural and club sport programs have really evolved into health, wellness and well-being. We are providing programs, services and facilities to help individuals in all dimensions of wellness, even beyond physical activity. Certainly physical activity is the cornerstone of our offering, but I think there has been a shift in providing more of a study/life balance. We need to be providing the outlet for everyone to relieve their stress and step back to have some fun and engage in some kind of activity.
3. Throughout your time at Oakland University, what is one accomplishment you are most proud of?
Coming to Oakland University in 1996, I had a very unique opportunity where I was able to start the department from scratch. There was no department of campus recreation. There was a very minimal intramural program under athletics. But there was no fitness, wellness, group exercise, club sports, etc. So literally we started the program from scratch. Over the years, what I am proudest of is that we have impacted the culture of Oakland University into one that highly values well-being.
4. What is one lesson you have learned that other recreation professionals can learn from?
I will give you two words: passion and persistence. Finding your passion for what we do on our campuses is a critical thing that motivates you. I am passionate about this, so I look forward to coming to work each and every morning. The second part of that is in higher education, you have to be persistent. There are so many challenges within the hierarchy of an institution that success sometimes takes a long time. You need to be persistent and realize that things take time and when mistakes happen or when there is a setback, continue the path forward because good things happen to good people over time.
5. Tell us one fun fact about yourself that others may not know.
Part of my career, when I was at Bowling Green State University, I was the director of the ice arena. During that time, I taught a curling class to students for eight years.