The #RecChat team was joined in November by three members of the Small Programs Advisory Committee: Todd Bowyer, Roanoke college; Joe Hoff, Texas A&M at Galveston; and Alecia Stegenga, the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The discussion started with an exploration of the biggest challenges small programs professional staff face, and how our panelists handle these various challenges. Common themes were staff being spread too thin and having to rely on students to complete coordinator level responsibilities through a student lens. After identifying student staff as crucial to small college programs, we considered how to best utilize student staff within leadership and management roles. When placing students in leadership positions, it’s important to empower them by providing training on how to act as a paraprofessional.
The panelists then discussed the importance of on-campus partnerships, which are vital since they allow small campuses to offer services to as many students as possible. Creating and maintaining relationships and collaborations with other departments on your campus is an important aspect of running a small program. These collaborations help create a collective message, raise brand recreation, foster wellness, and—most importantly—generate awareness across campus. The panelists also discussed the many ways small programs can utilize off-campus resources and businesses.
Finally, we dove into ways to run cost-effective programs that mitigate the impact of budget cuts and programming with a general lack of funding. It is vital to look at the equipment and space you currently have to creatively program for little to no cost. One great example is turning an indoor soccer space traditionally used for intramurals into a team handball tournament.
More than just the challenges, panelists mentioned a unique advantage staff at a small program have. These professionals might very well be given an opportunity to be a campus recreation director at an early age and to amplify their voice on campus for their program.
Don’t miss out on any part of the conversation. Check out this incredibly-informative #RecChat today:
On the horizon for the advisory council
The advisory council has several projects in the works. They are working on a webinar as well as local professional development opportunities via face-to-face meetings that will provide additional learning to small program staff across the country at little to no cost. They are also developing retention and recruitment initiatives to strengthen the network of small program NIRSA members.
The council is also hosting a preconference workshop for the 2018 Annual Conference dedicated to the unique needs of small program staff. The preconference workshop will be a full day of learning and networking with colleagues from other small programs. It will take place on Sunday, March 4. Topics are likely to include:
- How to advocate for your program to upper-level administrators
- Developing both professional and student staff
- Building partnerships on/off-campus
- Making the most of your conference this week
Small programs at NIRSA 2018
Not sure how to approach your boss about going to the NIRSA Annual Conference? Take advantage of the “Convince Your Boss Toolkit,” which can help guide professional staff on how to approach their supervisor for approval to travel to NIRSA 2018. Keep in mind that small program staff members may be eligible for a 35% discount on Annual Conference registration fees. Please visit the NIRSA website for more information. And don’t forget to attend the Small Program Social while you’re in Denver or to pick up your small program sticker, which will help you network with other small program staff.