By Kathy Obuszewski, Assistant Manager of Aquatics at Case Western University and member of the NIRSA Global Perspectives Commission

As more and more campuses enroll increasing numbers of international students—and as our world continues to become more interconnected—there is a growing need for global perspective competencies within campus recreation departments across North America and beyond. With this in mind, the NIRSA Board of Directors convened a summit in Baltimore—involving members from NIRSA’s Strategic Values Commission for Global Perspectives, the Board of Directors, NIRSA Headquarters, as well as invited guests—to articulate a guiding purpose for the Commission’s efforts, draft action points, and discuss what NIRSA’s role could and should be on the global stage.

Held over two days in May of 2015 on the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s campus, this summit provided time and space for participants to hone the desired outcomes for the Association in this domain. Bill Crockett—Executive Director of Campus Life Services and the Campus Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and NIRSA President Elect—was an outstanding host, and was truly instrumental in providing Summit participants with an environment that facilitated productive collaboration and thoughtful discussion.

Summit participants took full advantage of the face-to-face meetings to discuss what it means for collegiate recreation as a profession, and NIRSA as an association, to hold a global perspective. We delved into broad concepts like globalization as well as more practical issues like reaching out to international students on our campuses or creating the infrastructure to support more opportunities for domestic students and staff to study or work abroad.

In order to help ensure the summit yielded effective outcomes, NIRSA brought in expert trainer and leadership consultant Fabian De Rozario. Fabian is the President of the National Association of Asian American Professionals and a Partner of the Training Guidance Group. As an expert facilitator, he’s helped companies create strategies and action plans that demonstrate a global perspective.

Summit participants also benefited from listening to guest participants Alan Davis—Executive Director of the VTV Family Outreach Foundation and former Executive Director of the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA)—and Sallie Traxler of Result Trax, LLC and Executive Director Emeritus of the Association of College and Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I). Both of these leaders were able to offer advice on how their organizations—both past and present—have benefited from strengthening their global network. They also took time to share some of the pitfalls they encountered along the way. Overall, Sallie, Alan, and Fabian added valuable perspectives to the expansive conversations.

The primary takeaway from the summit was a shared understanding among Commissioners as to what NIRSA’s role in this domain should be and a clearer vision of the necessary work that will help move the Association forward. Commissioners also created a proposal to break the four previously-identified focus areas down into three more precise areas. These new areas are:

  • Facilitating intercultural experiences in collegiate recreation
    NIRSA members will facilitate domestic and non-domestic students learning from each other through collegiate recreation experiences and programs
  • Developing cultural competence among NIRSA members
    We will create opportunities for NIRSA members to develop cross-cultural competencies
  • Internationalizing collegiate recreation
    We will become a globally-trusted resource for collegiate recreation programs and professionals and will seek to collaborate with other countries to advocate for the outcomes of collegiate recreation as a critical component of student success

In addition to rearticulating our focus, another key development was the drafting of goals and the beginnings of the action plan to guide our work. The details of the action plan will be refined and submitted to the NIRSA Board of Directors for endorsement in the coming weeks, and more details will be shared with NIRSA members in the fall.

If you’re interested in learning more about global perspectives, make sure to join the conversation happening on NIRSA Connect, or feel free to reach out to any of the Commission members. Also, if you have experience with, or ideas about, the many different aspects of global perspectives, please consider submitting a presentation proposal for an upcoming conference in your region this fall as well as for the 2016 NIRSA Annual Conference & Recreational Sports Expo at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida from April 3–6!

2015 NIRSA Global Perspectives Summit Participants

  • Alex Accetta, Portland State University
  • Allie Bogard, Western Kentucky University
  • Kristy Caldwell, Texas State University
  • Bill Crockett, University of Maryland, Baltimore
  • Alan Davis, TV Family Outreach Foundation
  • Chris Dawe, Mount Royal University
  • Fabian de Rozario, Training Guidance Group
  • Lloyd Hisaka, University of Hawaii
  • Alice Kersting, NIRSA Headquarters
  • Keli Kuykendall, NIRSA Headquarters
  • Annette Livas, University of Texas–Pan American
  • Kevin Marbury, University of Oregon
  • Kathy Obuszewski, Case Western University
  • Mary O’Mahoney, California State University, Bakersfield
  • Stan Shingles, Central Michigan University
  • Caitlin Sommers, University of the Pacific
  • Pam Su, San Francisco State University
  • Sallie Traxler, Result Trax, LLC
  • Pam Watts, NIRSA Headquarters


For more information about the NIRSA Global Perspectives Commission, please contact NIRSA Senior Director of Operations Keli Kuykendall.