The Final Exam is your chance to get advice and insights from experts in the industry. For the May/June 2021 issue, Campus Rec spoke with Armand Buzzelli, Ph.D., the director of Campus Recreation at Robert Morris University (RMU).
1. How did you get started in the industry?
Armand Buzzelli: My path toward my current role started during my time as an undergraduate at Washington & Jefferson College. I earned an MBA from RMU with a focus on Sport Management. I continued to work on intentionally building my network in higher education. I’ll say our vice president of Student Life and assistant dean took a leap of faith hiring me in 2009. My previous professional experience was more business oriented. They had the foresight to see how important business acumen was to leading a robust rec department.
2. How would you go about describing campus recreation at RMU?
AB: We offer some unique amenities for students to recreate including the Island Sports Center complex that serves as the home to our ice hockey programs and track-and-field team. The facility includes a miniature golf course, indoor golf driving range, ice rinks and a roller hockey rink. Our rec center includes a fitness center with three group exercise studios, basketball and volleyball courts, and an esports center among other services. We also have an adjacent outdoor court complex that includes basketball, hockey, pickleball and tennis facilities.
I would say our recreation department aligns with one of our university’s trademarked catchphrases that we’re “big enough to matter, but small enough to care.”
3. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?
AB: The pandemic has been easily the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced in campus recreation. I’ve never had a more concrete reminder of how interconnected people are. Everything we do can impact others in some way.
4. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
AB: Professionally, I would say the most critical moment of my career at RMU was helping to lead the pitch to our Student Government Association to enact a recreation fee that would serve as the primary revenue stream for our whole operation. That entire process from assisting with the design of the facility to learning about every step of the construction process was very rewarding.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other recreation professionals might benefit from?
AB: I have always learned through teaching. Every time I interact with a student or class, I am learning from them at least as much as they are learning from me. Never assume you are have too much experience to learn something new. I’ve found the longer I serve in my role the more I find myself open to learning new things.
6. What is one fun fact about yourself others may not know?
AB: I’ve recently been fortunate enough to publish a children’s book called, “Rosie’s Red Sauce.” The book is geared toward younger children and illustrates the benefits of gardening, healthy home cooking and family traditions. It’s available now on Amazon.