We all know a colleague who constantly goes above and beyond for their region and for NIRSA. Often, these colleagues’ accomplishments can be forgotten or taken for granted during our day-to-day routines because we get used to those same individuals always there, always contributing, and always making us better. Now is the time of year for us to break from routine and give those colleagues the recognition they deserve by nominating them for a Regional Award of Merit.

See related: “It’s NIRSA awards season

The NIRSA Regional Awards of Merit are awarded annually to one professional member from each of NIRSA’s seven regions to recognize that individual’s exceptional performance or dedication to NIRSA or the field of collegiate recreation at the state, provincial, or regional level. These individuals are dedicated to volunteer efforts and servant leadership and have made contributions to the advancement of the profession.

“There are so many great colleagues working in every corner of NIRSA, and everyone has a vital role,” says Steve Erickson, the 2015 Region V Award of Merit recipient. “The passion of this industry is so intense and meaningful to our campuses; it’s such a great honor that our NIRSA teammates reached out to recognize one person while we have so many professionals also contributing to the team. I am very grateful!”

“The passion of this industry is so intense and meaningful to our campuses.”

The Regional Awards of Merit are presented each year during the Regional Member Network Connection meetings at the NIRSA Annual Conference & Campus Rec and Wellness Expo. The deadline to submit nominations is November 15.

To many, this award is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a member of the Association. David Hall, the 2015 Region I recipient says, “Receiving the Regional Award of Merit and being recognized by peers and in the company of outstanding professionals, many of whom I consider mentors, is as meaningful as any award I could have received.”

Frequently, the winners of the Regional Awards of Merit have been heavily involved in their state, province, or region for a considerable amount of their career and have developed significant relationships within the Association as a result. To then be recognized by these peers, colleagues, and friends is profoundly meaningful for recipients. Therese Kennedy, the 2017 Region III recipient, articulates this feeling well: “It truly is an honor to serve NIRSA. I have been so fortunate to have been mentored by some awesome NIRSA professionals in Region III and nationally. To be recognized by your peers is truly humbling.”

“To be recognized by your peers is truly humbling.”

Please consider nominating those that have made an impact not only in our lives, but the lives of many others across our states, provinces, and regions. We are nothing as an association without the outstanding leaders who continue to push, challenge, and support us. Let’s celebrate and honor these individuals!

  • For more information, contact NIRSA Assistant Director for Membership Emily Hughes.
Associate Director-Programs at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign |

Jessica Gentry, Vice Chair of the NIRSA Member Network, is currently the  Associate Director of Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.