The NIRSA Honor Award Committee is excited to announce that Greg Jordan has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 NIRSA Honor Award! The NIRSA Honor Award is our Association’s most prestigious honor; it is awarded annually in celebration of a NIRSA member who has provided exemplary service to the Association and has made impressive achievements in the field of collegiate recreation. It is clear that Greg Jordan wholeheartedly deserves recognition as our 2017 NIRSA Honor Award recipient.
A lifelong commitment to collegiate recreation
Greg’s progression through the collegiate recreation field is not unfamiliar. He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies at Indiana University (IU) where—as an undergraduate student—he worked as an intramural official, intramural supervisor, office assistant, and sport club president. As a graduate student he worked as the graduate assistant for club sports. His first professional position was as the Assistant Director of Club and Informal Sports at IU, followed by positions at Bowling Green State University as the Associate Director of the Student Recreation Center, Director of the Ice Arena, and then Director of the Student Recreation Center.
Nearly two decades ago, in 1996, Greg accepted his current position as the Director of University Recreation and Well-Being at Oakland University. He has been actively involved in campus committees and initiatives at every campus he has worked at, and has pursued a variety of outside interests—ranging from musical theater, officiating ice hockey and golf, and his favorite band, Hall & Oates.
But Greg’s service in NIRSA has been anything but traditional. He has been a NIRSA member for almost forty years. During this time, he has distinguished himself as one of the most selfless, passionate, and dedicated NIRSA contributors. Greg has presented at NIRSA, IRSA, ORSA, and MIRSA conferences, at Student Lead Ons, and at the MAC workshop. He has served as a keynote speaker and even hosted conferences, workshops, and sports championships.
Greg has mentored countless students and professionals. He has served on a variety of volunteer groups. He’s contributed to committees and task forces, including Finance, Bylaws, Nominations and Elections, Facilities, Sport Clubs, the Region III Award of Merit, and the Governance Transition Team. He has served as parliamentarian and he has served as the State Director of Indiana. And Ohio. And Michigan. He’s served on the NIRSA Services Corporation Board. He has also served NIRSA as President-Elect, President, Past President, and Annual Director. And then he served as the Past Presidents’ Representative on the Member Network. And then served again on the Nominations and Appointments Committee, and the Bylaws Committee. Greg is currently serving on the NIRSA Foundation Board of Directors.
Greg’s commitment to and passion for NIRSA is clearly evident in both his words and his actions. In his first NIRSA President Notes published in May of 2005, he wrote: “I think it is appropriate to recognize all of our NIRSA colleagues who serve our Association in a leadership capacity. Without the dedication and commitment from hundreds of our members, our NIRSA would not be what it is today.”
There were central themes in the Honor Award nomination letters written on Greg’s behalf. He is a strong advocate for getting the next generation of recreation professionals involved in NIRSA. He is a genuine and supportive mentor who stays connected with students and professionals as they progress through their NIRSA careers. He is one of the most knowledgeable people in our organization regarding NIRSA history, organization, finances, bylaws, and operating code. He is relentless in actively seeking out opportunities to serve while remaining undeterred by setbacks.
Greg’s NIRSA nickname, “Grandpa,”—coined by the 2014–2015 Student Leadership Team—is a tribute to his seemingly endless knowledge about everything related to NIRSA and his reputation for being extraordinarily kind, thoughtful, and supportive of everyone in the NIRSA family. Colleagues were effusive in their praise of Greg’s commitment to other human beings. Vicki Highstreet, Associate Director of Recreation Programming at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, describes Greg as “a genuine, honest, caring individual who sees the good in others and works to encourage them to reach their fullest potential.” Andre Love, Executive Director of University Recreation at University of Alabama, says that “Greg is considered to be a natural leader and in my opinion his work ethic speaks volumes about the content of his character.”
Dave DeAngelo, Director of RPAC Operations at The Ohio State University, says that staff at The Ohio State appreciate a saying made famous by former Coach Woody Hayes: “You win with people.” Dave emphasizes that “Greg Jordan has been winning with people his whole professional career.” Becky Lewis, Assistant Director at Oakland University, explains that this commitment to people starts with Greg’s campus colleagues: “As a full time employee at Oakland, I receive—as do my colleagues—the same encouragement on a daily basis that I was given by him years ago.”
Greg believes it is his duty as a NIRSA member to actively encourage others to be involved in the association he loves. And he takes this duty seriously. Rachelle Winkler, former Coordinator of Fitness Programs and Services at Oakland University—and now the Health Promotions Coordinator for the Marine Corps in Hawaii—said Greg is absolutely dedicated “to developing and motivating young professionals to have that same willingness to serve that perpetuates the organization” and that he “applauded” all efforts to contribute to the Association.
When Greg served on the Member Network as the Past Presidents’ Representative, Jen Gudaz—Director of Recreational Services at Cornell University and former chair of the Member Network—was impressed with Greg’s impact in “developing the students on the Member Network to make them better leaders” so they can in turn have an impact on the other NIRSA student members.
Mila Padgett, Director Campus Recreation & Wellness at the University of South Carolina Aiken, was one person who Greg had “a tremendous impact on.” And “not only as a professional but also as a person,” she explains. “He was a director who believed in my abilities, pushed me into roles that I wouldn’t have pursued, and mentored me to think big,” she says. “He allowed me to express my opinion as a young professional and truly listened to understand. Even if we didn’t agree, I knew he listened. I feel fortunate that our paths crossed and he was the leader I learned from in the infancy of my NIRSA career. He is my mentor but more importantly he is a true, lifelong friend.”
Greg’s son and fellow collegiate recreation professional Andrew Jordan, Coordinator of Adventure Recreation at The Ohio State University, confirms the sentiments of others: “The compassion he displays with others makes them feel valued. His passion for others fuel his desire to engage and impact students and young professionals in our field.”
Lifting others up
Greg has a well-deserved reputation for his determined efforts to recognize others for their service. When various NIRSA award nomination deadlines are approaching in the fall, a handful of colleagues can count on receiving emails and phone calls from Greg that encourage them to nominate deserving colleagues for NIRSA Service Awards, Region Award of Merit Awards, state association recognitions, the Horace Moody Award, and the Honor Award. It is difficult to imagine anyone in NIRSA who has submitted more award nominations than Greg; his focus is always on lifting others up.
Greg’s recognition of others also extends to sharing congratulations, words of wisdom, and encouragement. Vicki says that Greg “is the first to acknowledge and congratulate you on your accomplishments, and never one to take credit for the part he plays in getting you to that next place.” Jen states that not only did Greg reach out to her immediately after she was slated for office, but he was also among the first to call and congratulate her when she won the election.
Greg reaches out if you get hired, if you get promoted, or if you get slated for office. He reaches out if you win an election or if you lose an election. He reaches out if you are facing difficult work or family circumstances. Countless colleagues have relayed how Greg just always seem to BE there for them. Stan Shingles, Assistant Vice President at Central Michigan University, says, “Greg possesses a very unique leadership style that is inclusive, forward-thinking, and supports the objective of the organization. His ability to engage others, build consensus, and navigate unique and difficult challenges is one of his greatest assets. Greg possesses outstanding enthusiasm, a can-do attitude, and a tremendous will to succeed.”
Gregory Jordan: a NIRSA encyclopedia
Perhaps the thing that differentiates Greg most from other highly-involved NIRSA members is his status as the person who knows virtually everything about NIRSA—particularly in terms of our history and governance. Stan says, “Greg is without question the leading expert in NIRSA Bylaws and governance structure. His work with the NIRSA Future-First Governance Transition team was one of the highlights of his service to NIRSA.”
When Vicki was moving into the NIRSA President role, she had the opportunity to pick an Annual Director for the NIRSA Board of Directors. She chose Greg because, she says, “I could not think of anyone in our Association who knew about and was as detailed when it came to our Association’s bylaws. He worked tirelessly, combing through the bylaws for the appropriate terminology and phrasing to speak to what the Association was in need of.” She goes on to say, “He spent many an hour writing, gathering feedback, and rewriting the bylaws to reflect a more effective and efficient governance format. His role in helping our NIRSA membership adopt our current governance system must never be taken lightly or be forgotten.”
Jen concurs, stating that “Greg is a valuable member to work with on any committee because he knows everything about NIRSA. He can tell you the bylaws, finance, Nominations & Appointments, or almost anything else you might need to know.” And his knowledge is accessible to colleagues because of his approachability and his generosity with his time and talents.”
The combination of his knowledge and his desire to support and lift up colleagues is powerful. Amy Seth, Director of Campus Recreation at Western Michigan University, shares a personal experience: “I can remember when Greg was our Parliamentarian for MIRSA and I was Michigan’s State Director. Not being familiar with Robert’s Rules, I forgot how to open the meeting. Greg was good at reading people. He gave me a look and mentioned the words ‘Let’s call the meeting to order.’ Not needing to be in the limelight, he was always there to support those who needed it.”
A powerful voice
Another wonderful quality about Greg is his commitment to sharing the truth. “Less young” NIRSA members remember the Annual Business Meetings and the open microphones that were open to any member brave enough to speak in front of their colleagues. The folks willing to speak at the mic numbered perhaps half a dozen, and Greg was one of them. Not only was he diligent about being informed about the issues, but he had no qualms about speaking his truth in front of membership.
“One of my most memorable moments with my dad was at the NIRSA conference in Austin, 2008,” says Andrew Jordan. “There was a town hall meeting in which my dad spoke about the proposed bylaw changes. I did not realize the influence he had at the time, but I knew how passionate he was. At the conclusion of his speech, Tom Jones was in tears and audience members gave him a standing ovation. I was in awe.”
Doing good well
St. Vincent DePaul, the French Roman Catholic priest, said, “It is not enough to do good, it must be done well.” Greg’s actions exemplify this quote. He has actively and relentlessly pursued opportunities to “do good” through serving NIRSA. When he stood for NIRSA elections but didn’t win, his reaction was to immediately look for other ways to serve. When his term of service on one project ends, he immediately seeks out other opportunities to serve. But he has also performed these services well. Greg is easily recognizable as a “go-to” leader in NIRSA; when colleagues need assistance on a task or project, his name quickly comes to mind because of his dedication and his reputation for doing things well.
Greg has earned a variety of accolades because of the quality and quantity of his service. Honors have included the Region III Award of Merit, the Michael J. Stevenson Michigan Intramural Recreational Sports Association (MIRSA) Outstanding Service Award, the Ohio Recreational Sports Association Honor Award, the Indiana University Outstanding Alumni Award, two NIRSA Service Awards, and the Dr. Tom R. Jones MIRSA Outstanding Member Award. And, now, NIRSA’s highest recognition, the Honor Award.
Tom Jones, retired director of University Recreation at Central Michigan University and past NIRSA Honor Award recipient, states that “Greg is the working definition of a professional leader. He has been an outstanding staff member and director, a long-time mentor of students and young professionals, a brilliant spokesperson for our profession, a fine speaker and talented listener, and one who has been highly adaptable to change in society, higher education, and recreational sports.” He continues in his praise, saying, “Greg seems to be everywhere, is called upon continuously for advice and counsel, and is always accessible to students, young professionals, and seasoned members.”
Andrew sums up the fact that his dad is being awarded the 2017 NIRSA Honor Award simply: “When I think of my dad and the profession we are in, I think of passion. It is time we honor our NIRSA Grandpa, Greg Jordan.”
Celebrate your 2017 NIRSA Honor Award recipient
Please join your colleagues in congratulating Greg at the 2017 Honor Award Banquet, the closing gala event of the 2017 NIRSA Annual Conference & Campus Rec and Wellness Expo, which is taking place in National Harbor, MD from February 21–24. Registered attendees can reserve their seats/tables in advance.
- If you are interested in highlighting your campus or a NIRSA member’s achievements on your campus, pitch us your ideas.