Lessons Learned

This month, Campus Rec Magazine celebrates its 1st Birthday. It was exactly one year ago when we launched the first issue of the magazine. What a year it has been. I have been blessed with the opportunity to speak with, meet and learn from some of the most amazing professionals in the industry.

Looking back on the past year, I want to highlight some of my favorite lessons from each issue.


September/October 2015 — The University of Iowa

An increasing number of schools are starting to incorporate wellness under the Campus Recreation umbrella, providing a more holistic approach to health and wellbeing. For our first cover story, we learned how the University of Iowa is making an effort to address wellness on campus by partnering with UI Wellness.

When the Recreation and Wellness Center was constructed in 2010, a Wellness Suite was built on the first floor. Through the Wellness Suite, students, faculty and staff have access to a wide variety of services, such as health screenings, online programs, health fairs, nutritional counseling, sexual health awareness and stress management services.

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November/December 2015 — The University of Maine

When the New Balance Recreation Center was built in 2007, innovation was key. Besides its breathtaking design, another interesting feature is the building’s sustainability. According the Jeff Hunt, the director of recreation, from the beginning of the construction process, the goal was to build a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified building.

Upon completion, the University of Maine New Balance Recreation Center was awarded a LEED Silver certification. Some of their green initiatives include monitoring energy use, sustainable cleaning practices like using non-toxic products and hosting zero waste events where all trash goes into the university composter.


January/February 2016 — Georgia Tech

The headline of this piece was, An Olympic Cathedral, since the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center was home of the 1996 Olympic Games. The university worked to build a spectacular venue for not only the games, but campus recreation for years to come. With all of the additions, including the aquatic center, six basketball courts, three dance studios, an in-line hockey rink and an elevated, four-lane running track, the original student recreation center expanded from 90,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet.

“When the architect designed it, one of our goals was when you walk in the building it has the ‘wow’ factor,” said Michael Edwards, the director of campus recreation, during our interview. “It is open, there is a lot of glass, sunshine, energy and it starts right there at the front door because you are looking at a 15,000-square-foot fitness center. Then when you walk in farther, there is a glass wall and you can look right into the Olympic Aquatic Center.”


March/April 2016 — The University of Missouri St. Louis

Opening a new facility is no easy task, this was highlighted in the story featuring Yvette Kell and the University of Missouri St. Louis. Kell started working for the university in November of 2014 and nine months later, in July 2015, the Recreation and Wellness Center opened its doors.

“I came on a year ago and the longest anyone has been here is about nine months,” said Kell, during our interview. “Bringing that team together and having everyone get on board so quickly has been the biggest challenge. But I haven’t seen a team mesh together that quickly in my career and it has been awesome to be a part of that.”


May/June 2016 — The Ohio State University

While the facilities at The Ohio State University are expansive and top-notch, it is the student leadership and development agenda that stood out most about this department. For Dr. Don Stenta, the director of recreational sports, leadership development has become a consistent thread throughout his career.

“I believe that higher education institutions exist to provide leadership development opportunities for our students who can then become contributing members of their communities,” said Stenta, during our interview. “I have applied leadership principles in all of my positions. This informs my perspective that leadership can be taught in recreational settings.”


July/August 2016 — The University of Missouri

Again for this story the headline said it all, “Diane & the Details.” Diane Dahlmann, the director of recreation at the University of Missouri, has a hand in everything that goes on at MizzouRec.  From carpeting to lighting to paint colors, Dahlmann is involved in every detail. And her hands on approach has led to the creation of one of the more remarkable recreation facilities in the nation.

“When we built the complex, we knew we only had one chance to make a mark in terms of physical structure, so we looked at every element,” said Dahlmann. “We converted everything into dynamic spaces that can change with trends. It is not just space; it is a string of experiences that should flow together and have a consistent theme. We create innovative experiences for our students. The facility was built in 2005, but we want it to still look new and relevant in 2010, 2015, 2020, so attention to detail is essential.”

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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