The Final Exam is your chance to get advice and insights from experts in the industry. For the March/April issue, Campus Rec spoke with Kenny Moore, the director of recreation at Vanderbilt University.
1. How did you get started in the industry?
I began my work at Vanderbilt University in the fall of 2006. For nine years I managed a student center located on our first-year residential campus. I had an opportunity to advance myself and move to the athletic department upon the retirement of the previous rec director. I jumped on the opportunity, and I haven’t looked back. I have been running the rec center for going on three years now, doing what I love and have been doing for almost 12 years – developing people.
2. How would you go about describing recreation at Vanderbilt University?
Mental health and life stressors are becoming constant concerns in students and, for that matter, people of all ages. At Vanderbilt, we provide recreational programs and services so our community can develop habits and create toolsets to live healthy lives. With my student center experience, I have tried to take the Rec’s strengths and add a student center spark. I want students and our Vanderbilt community to see the Rec as more than just a gym, but a place where you can study, hang out and have meetings, along with traditional rec programs. The Rec at Vanderbilt is a place where you don’t have to just lift weights or be an athlete. Anyone can find their niche at the Rec while just being themselves.
3. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?
A challenge and opportunity that has been a continuous thread throughout my career experience is change. Peoples’ needs and how they engage one another in their community are constantly changing. That means we have to be part of that change or your organization becomes stagnant, or worse – irrelevant. The key here as I see it is be the change agent and know your people so you can anticipate their needs.
4. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
The one thing I am most proud of in my career is the impact I have had on students, or better yet, the impact they have had on me. My students are who get me out of bed and motivate me every day. I believe they are our future leaders and innovators, so I want to inspire them to achieve their dreams. I put my heart and soul into what I do, and I have always got more than I could have ever given. To any of my students who read this article, thank you.
5. What is one lesson you have learned other recreation professionals might benefit from?
I believe in focusing on loving what you do. When you are the best version of yourself, your shine is contagious and you will bring out the best version in others. Being in student affairs can be tough, and some days you just feel like you have been chewed up and spit out because you cannot seem to do anything right. So make sure to keep those thank you notes, small gifts, pictures, text, or whatever it is that will help you keep your cup filled and hopefully overflowing.
6. What is one fun fact about yourself that others may not know?
I am a huge Christmas fanatic, and it is my goal to have 31 different ugly Christmas sweaters. I just love bringing the joy to others. I would add one other fun fact: I am also a huge Star Wars fan. So when I am not wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, you can find me sporting some kind of Star Wars attire.