Recapping NIRSA 2019

NIRSA 2019

Last week, the industry as a whole was gathered in Boston, Massachusetts, for the annual NIRSA conference.

Unusually beautiful weather during the weekend turned into a mild snowstorm, but that didn’t deter the conference. The Campus Rec team was stationed on the expo floor for two days of connecting with our partners, hearing from our readers and getting a taste of the industry – and of what’s coming next.

There were themes that stood out this year, including well-being and inclusion. Several rec directors who were at NIRSA give their thoughts below on the event and what we should be paying attention to as we move forward in this industry:

University of Michigan

Mike Widen
Director of Recreational Sports

“For me, I think the two themes from the conference that stick out in my mind are well-being and inclusion. As an industry, we are continuing to ensure well-being is part of our core work and that we are being leaders in providing campus-wide, well-being initiatives. What’s ahead of us is certainly more collaboration with our campus well-being partners. We talked a lot about how our proactive work with students can benefit our student’s ability to manage their own personal well-being.

“In addition to well-being, the other major takeaway for me was our continued work toward being more inclusive. Inclusive design, inclusive programming, inclusive language and inclusive supervision were all topics of the conference. It is important for our students and professionals at NIRSA to learn how we can be the example of inclusion for our respective campuses.

“From an expo perspective, we continued to see growth in functional fitness areas and equipment, as well as virtual fitness and leaderboard technology.

“What wasn’t new at NIRSA this year was the continual building of important relationships with friends, colleagues and partners. The NIRSA Annual Conference continues to be a source of great ideas and energy for me.”

More on the University of Michigan.

University of California, Davis

Jeff Heiser
Associate Director of Recreation

Editor Heather Hartmann and Jeff Heiser of UC Davis at NIRSA 2019.

“To reach a broader student user group, one that is truly reflective of the student population on our college campuses, we need to continue to look toward non-traditional recreation programming in order to open our spaces to more students. The health and well-being of our students is not solely the responsibility of our health center. Our recreation programs play a critical role in addressing this concern. Our core traditional programs are potentially not reaching some groups of our student populations. We need to not only be creative, flexible and adaptive in our program offerings, we also need to evaluate what we consider our definition of ‘recreation’ to be in order to reach all of our students on our campuses.”

USC Aiken

Mila Padgett
Director of Campus Recreation and Wellness

“The mental health and well-being of our communities is something we are all concerned about on our campuses. This conference had many sessions to help process and provide information on how we can create programs and resources to assist students to improve their overall health, well-being and success in college.

“NIRSA is modeling the importance of partnering with other organizations that have the same underlying goal of improving health and well-being on college campuses.”

Purdue University

Howard Taylor
Retired Director of Recreation and Wellness

Howard Taylor of Purdue University and Heather Hartmann, editor of Campus Rec Magazine, at NIRSA 2019.

“Some things that seems to be happening are: streaming fitness similar to what is happening with Peloton.  There are services that are expanding to provide virtual group exercise instructors or fitness programs.

“There seems to be a growth in the integration or collaboration of wellness and campus recreation – certainly an expansion of wellness topics.

“Esports is a hot topic with discussion regarding how it relates in the fitness and recreation setting. I got a sense many are leaning to embrace these programs.

“Those are some of the things that I observed.”

More on Purdue University.

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Campus Rec Magazine
[adrotate group="25"]
<div class="g g-25"><div class="g-single a-327"><a class="gofollow" data-track="MzI3LDI1LDEsNjA=" href=""><img src="" /></a></div></div>