Insight from the 2017 Campus Rec Leadership Summit

Leadership Summit

Earlier this month, 40 campus recreation executives and 11 sponsors gathered at La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas, for two days of networking, problem solving and fun at the first annual Campus Rec Leadership Summit. Attendees spent two days participating in thought provoking roundtable discussions, which covered topics ranging from risk management to student engagement.

Here are some key insights from each of the six roundtable topics.

Roundtable 1: Leadership Development

Case Study — As a leader your goal is to build a winning team within your institution and to create the conditions in which engagement and development can happen. This has become your No. 1 priority over the next 12 months.

Discussion — Attendees discussed three successful strategies for building an effective and high-performing team, as well as methods for creating a culture of leadership development within their department.

Key Insights — Creating a high-performing culture starts with knowing your purpose and organizational culture. It is essential to hire people who understand what you are trying to accomplish within your department. It is also important to practice strategic hiring. Hire people with strengths that you might not have on your team. Find a gap in your team and fill it, for everyone has different strengths.

Roundtable 2: Engaging the Student Population and Alumni

Case Study — You’ve noticed that your alumni users have sharply dropped and your student population doesn’t seem to be informed enough about the recreation center or its offerings to be consistent users. This has caused attendance to be at an all-time low and a key area to improve over the next six months.

Discussion — Throughout this roundtable, attendees identified three new or innovative strategies they could implement to start connecting and educating the student population and alumni.

Key Insights — When it comes to engaging students and alumni it is essential to have a sustained marketing effort, starting when students are freshman all the way to alumni. Focus on building relationships throughout their time at the university, so when they are alumni, they still want to participate and be part of the experience. Also, reach out to non-users. Send a personalized email or survey to those who are not using the recreation center and find out why. Once your learn who is not engaged in your program, figure out how they prefer to recreate and what they want to see in your recreation center.

Roundtable 3: Programming and Wellness

Case Study — In order to stay relevant, you realize that your facility needs to revamp its programming and wellness initiatives to better serve your student population.

Discussion — Attendees discussed first steps to consider when deciding what programming initiatives to implement or change.

Key Insights — When implementing new programming, it is important to understand who your target audience is and use that as a framework. Next, consider your budget, facility space and staffing needs. Would this new program require experts to run it, or can you offer it with existing staff. Understand trends versus fads. Will the program last long-term? Finally, listen to your student population. Gather the right information and ask the right questions before implementing a new program.

Roundtable 4: Profit Centers and Fundraising

Case Study — In order to keep a stabilized budget year over year, you realize you need to start instating additional profit center opportunities within your facility and possible fundraising initiatives to expand opportunities for students and engage the community.

Discussion — During this roundtable, attendees brainstormed various ways to grow revenue within their department.

Key Insights — One way to grow revenue is by renting facility space. Are there spaces in your facility where you could offer additional services such as childcare, spa services or a cooking space? However, when renting facility space it is important to consider the impact it will have on your students. How does this impact your ability to deliver services to your students? In order to mitigate disruption, consider facility rentals during low-use times, such as summer. Other revenue streams include in-house food, beverage and merchandise sales or charging for intramurals.

Roundtable 5: Risk Management

Case Study — With the inherent risk involved with collegiate recreation activities, and the wide variety of students and their needs utilizing your facility, you must be able to identify and manage risk at a high level.

Discussion — What are the current most-pressing risk management issues and how can you tackle them?

Key Insights — A key area when it comes to risk management is developing a concussion management protocol. Try to have an athletic trainer on staff who manages this concussion protocol. Other ways to mitigate risk are: practicing mock emergencies, working with local police, keeping track of all staff certifications within your software, conducting background checks on all club sport coaches and logging information about equipment (i.e. how many miles are on treadmills, etc.)

Roundtable 6: The Future of Campus Recreation

Case Study — The collegiate recreation landscape is changing daily. To ensure your facility and staff can keep pace with the needs of your student population and evolving fitness opportunities, the face of campus recreation will alter in the coming years.

Discussion — In one of the most thought provoking discussions of the event, attendees shared ideas on what is missing in collegiate recreation today and how their department could take on this idea. How will campus recreation shift and develop in the future?

Key Insights — There are several areas that are missing and/or starting to develop within campus recreation. These include: adaptive fitness and recreation programs, veteran services and mental health initiatives. In the future, campus recreation will continue to become the resource on campus for all things health and wellness. The involvement of campus recreation in recruitment and retention will continue to be a dialogue on campus. This is where assessment tools become exceedingly important. Determining learning outcomes is essential in telling the story of campus recreation.

Stay tuned for more insight from the 2017 Campus Rec Leadership Summit. A full recap will appear in the July/August 2017 issue.  A huge thanks to our sponsors for making this event possible: Aacer Sports Flooring, Daxko, Dectron, Global Archery, Headruch Technologies, HealthFitness, Mid-America Sports Advantage, Matrix Fitness, Power Systems, RDG Planning and Design and S3 Design.


Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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