College campuses can be rather large, spanning miles and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, is no exception. The campus spans across nearly 9,000 acres, so getting from one end of campus to the next is no small task.
In order to fulfill their mission of serving students, faculty and staff of the entire university community, the Duke Campus Recreation Department operates two main facilities – one on East Campus and one on West Campus.
Wilson Recreation Center is located on West Campus, where a large percentage of the university staff is housed. “It is close to 100,000 square feet and we will service about 3,000 people a day in that facility,” said Felicia Tittle, the executive director of recreation and physical education. “We have an Olympic sized pool, cardio space, three basketball courts, two racquetball courts, a wrestling room and much more.”
Brodie Recreation Center sits on East Campus, where a large majority of freshman lives. While anyone on campus can use Brodie Recreation Center, Tittle explains the facility is dedicated to first year students and getting them engaged on campus. To entice the busy freshman to check out the recreation center, it was been revamped with new flooring, painting and all new equipment.
“The benefit of having multiple facilities is that you can reach everyone who is interested in recreation and physical education on campus,” added Tittle. “The great things is there is a dedication to our first year students so you can really capture their attention and get them looped into what you are trying to do, so that when they transition to sophomores here on West Campus they already have a good idea of who we are, what our mission is and all the array of programs that we offer.”
However, having each facility located on opposite ends of campus poses its challenges. Tittle explained keeping all lines of communications open can be a struggle, but is essential for keeping things running smoothly.
“You could walk from one facility to another, but the distance is probably a good five miles so the big piece is communicating with staff and making sure the staff at each facility is communicating the various programs going on at each location,” she said. “You need to make sure you are communicating everything that is going on between the two so they operate similarly but just in two different locations.”
To help with this challenge, the entire team meets weekly, which according to Tittle has helped to fill in some of the communication gaps and ensure operating and marketing between locations are streamlined.
Finally, when operating multiple recreation facilities, Tittle suggests managing resources wisely. “We have our two major facilities, but we also have two squash courts in a different building, so when you start looking at all of these different facilities, you have to figure out how you are going to manage it from a human resources stand point and then also from a financial stand point. Making sure you can financially support each facility is a big piece.”