The Final Exam: Six Questions with Rusty

Rusty Vineyard

The Final Exam is your chance to get advice and insights from experts in the industry. For the November/December issue, Campus Rec spoke with Rusty Vineyard, the executive director of recreation and well-being at the University of Idaho.

1. How did you get started in the industry?

I got my start as an intramural official at Central Washington University back in 1998.

2. How would you go about describing campus recreation at the University of Idaho?

Recreation here is not unique; however, we are uniquely Idaho. We capitalize on opportunities to get our students, staff, and faculty actively involved with our programs and services, and we do that in so many ways. We take advantage of what our great state, our amazing Moscow community and the campus has to offer — through whitewater rafting, standup paddleboarding, huckleberry hikes, mountain biking, rock climbing, mountaineering, etc. Along with outdoor programming, we provide a wide range of activities and events to get involved with from intramural sports, clubs, fitness, personal training, nutrition and health education.

3. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?

A big challenge for me throughout my career thus far — and I would guess for a lot of other professionals in higher education recreation — would be budget. I have had the opportunity to be part of several programs, and all programs in some way are not immune to budget challenges. As institutions struggle with enrollment and retention, these factors have a significant impact on budgets.

4. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?

I have had the great opportunity to mentor and be part of the lives of individuals like Skyler Archibald, the executive director at Sunset Empire Parks and Recreation; Lucas Potes, the intramurals coordinator at Western Washington University; and Blake Simpfenderfer, the associate director of operations at the University of Vermont. Watching them succeed in their roles has been more rewarding than words can explain.

5. What is one lesson you have learned that other recreation professionals might benefit from?

I would tell others, especially young professionals, do not limit yourself by your regional location. Your career journey should be long and full of adventure. If you want to be somewhere specific, it will be so — it just might take you a little longer to get there.

6. What is one fun fact about yourself others may not know?

I once hit a half-court shot to win a quarter’s tuition during undergrad at Central Washington University.

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

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