Campus Rec Magazine surveys its advisory board quarterly on the industry’s top trends, biggest challenges and upcoming opportunities for campus recreation. The following is a state of the industry report from their insights in March 2022.
- Recovery from the pandemic: business-wise, transitioning back to full programming, etc.
- Dips in group fitness
- Student mental health and well-being
- Employee mental health and well-being
- Collaboration with campus partners
- Staffing challenges like morale, burnout and retention
- Budget implications from the pandemic
- Diversity and inclusion
While some of these trends are new, many are not. For example, a reoccurring trend includes mental health.
“Mental health is a big topic in the industry right now,” said Monica Verity, the director of Recreation at Wellesley College. “Overall well-being — physical, financial, spiritual, mental, nutritional — all play a factor in the success of our students.”
However, one of the trends is also the biggest opportunity: adjusting to the new normal. “[A top trend is] what to do differently from pre-pandemic, as this could be an opportunity to be bold in changing expectations,” said Maureen McGonagle, the director of Campus Recreation, CENTERS LLC at DePaul University.
- Generating pre-pandemic revenue
- Generating revenue outside of university student rec fees
- Declining enrollment
- Employee retention
- Student staff challenges
- Impact of inflation on club sport travel
- Student mental health
- Lower participation rates in group fitness, information recreation and intramurals
- Rethinking programs and services
As the 2021-2022 academic year wraps up, the industry has seen staffing challenges permeate every inch of it. For instance, look no further than the realm of student employees.
In fact, it was noted the new generation of students has changed. Most notably, their jobs in recreation are less of a priority and they seem to lack in critical thinking skills.
In addition to the above, supporting student mental health has continued to be a top challenge. So, this requires a shift on campus as well. “[A big challenge is] changing priorities for resources to help bolster mental health support,” said Eric Nickel, the director of University Recreation at James Madison University.
- “Charting a new course allows us to reset, discontinue pre-pandemic programs that were marginal and invest in new program development in new areas of need,” said Tim Moore, the executive director at Boston University.
- “Rec centers across the U.S. should be collaborating intentionally with our health services team — especially counseling services — to see how we can help this mental health crisis,” said Jorge Juarez, the executive director of Sun Devil Fitness at Arizona State University.
- “Showing we are more than a gym, so using data/assessment to show our value,” said Kevin George, the director of Campus Recreation at Rowan University. “I also think we can take positions of leadership to be the benchmark for well-being and diversity, equity and inclusion — when compared to other industries or offices on our campuses.”