As defined by Merriam Webster, unique means “being the only one, being without a like or equal, unusual.”
Often when I get on a call with a source, I’ll ask what makes their rec center or department unique. What makes it different from the rest? The answers of course vary, and I never quite know what to expect. But, it gets my sources thinking about what they do really well.
When I asked Julian Gomez, the associate director for communications and outreach at the University of Utah, this question, he shared about the staff and students wanting to be there. “Right now, what makes us unique I suppose is we have a really cohesive department. We have a lot of buy in from everybody,” said Gomez. “One thing we always pride ourselves in is we’re here for the students. There’s rarely any turnover in our department. Like I said before about the student staff, they’re proud to say where they work.”
For him, it was the cohesiveness and passion of the staff, both student and professional.
Often though, unique doesn’t necessarily mean a rec center is the only one that does it. I’m sure there are other cohesive departments. But sometimes, unique comes about from doing something really well. For example, Sarah Hardin, the associate director of wellness services and initiatives at DePaul University, said what makes them unique is their intentionality in student learning and development.
“I’m not saying other recreation departments don’t do it, but we’ve talked about servicing the students and trying to make sure we’re very focused on getting students in here. But I would say two other things that if anybody would talk about related to our department is student learning and development. Which many, many other leisure recreation departments across the country are very much focused on so I’m not saying we’re necessarily different, but it’s something we’re very intentional about,” said Hardin. “We’re very interested in student learning both for our students that work for us as well as students that come to our programs, so I think student learning is very high, and if it weren’t I would not have been interested in working here.”
With all of that said, the question then becomes, what do you do that’s unique? Is it a program or offering that is unusual and not found elsewhere? Or is it something you do really, really well? Find one or two things that make you unique today and share with me below.