The Association is excited to release to NIRSA members the 2018 NIRSA Benchmarking Report on Small Campus Recreation Programs!  NIRSA has a long-standing commitment to supporting small colleges and community colleges and this report is intended to provide NIRSA members with a resource that describes the nature of small recreation departments at college campuses in the U.S. and Canada.

Over the past year, Marci Iverson, Director of Recreation and Leadership at Viterbo University and NIRSA research grant recipient, has been analyzing the data from nearly 350 schools in the NIRSA Institutional Data Set, specifically as it pertains to small campus recreation programs (defined by NIRSAas either a 2-year school; or a 4-year school with less than 5,000 enrollment; or a 4-year school with five FTE or fewer).

Marci’s key findings and relevant data have been compiled into a report that provides NIRSA members with an accessible guide to small recreation department benchmarking data.

Highlights from the report

Small campus rec staff deliver more programs and services per staff member than their counterparts at other schools. Working at a small campus recreation program school affords staff an opportunity to learn how to manage a bigger footprint of facility spaces, while also delivering more programs and services (three) than their counterparts at other schools (one). NIRSA’s Institutional Data Set shows that staff at small campus recreation program schools are responsible for more space per person (15,667 sq. ft. versus 9,247 sq. ft.) than their counterparts at other campus rec program schools. While the median rec center space at smaller program schools is 47,000 sq. ft. and typical staff sizes are three FTE staff for smaller program schools versus 15 at other schools.

Small campus rec center staff develop cross-campus collaboration skills by operating in shared facility spaces. The median area of space per student at small campus recreation program schools is 14 sq. ft. versus 6.4 sq. ft. at other schools. However, student access to space for recreation at small campus recreation program schools is more restricted than area alone would indicate. IDS data report that most small recreation programs (85%) operate within a model with shared spaces. Therefore, working at a small program school allows campus recreation staff opportunities to hone cross-campus collaboration skills while providing recreational opportunities to students.

Interpretation guide

Campus recreation professionals often need data from comparable schools to evaluate their programs and services, help provide direction as it pertains to adding new programs, adding or renovating space, or adjusting and implementing fees. In addition to an overview of the institutional and departmental-level characteristics of small campus rec departments, the report includes a guide on how to interpret and apply benchmarking data to address specific needs.

The NIRSA Institutional Data Set platform was developed to give users a tool to evaluate and compare the various aspects of recreation departments for benchmarking purposes. As a benefit of membership, all NIRSA members can access the NIRSA IDS. Members at NIRSA institutional member schools also have access to additional filtering functionalities, such as personalize reporting features.

NIRSA is pleased to add this benchmarking report for small programs to the suite of research resources for campus recreation professionals. Visit NIRSA’s Benefits of Collegiate Recreation webpage to access the repository of data available to support the value and growth of campus recreational programs and services.

This report is part of an enhanced suite of offerings for small campus rec program NIRSA members.

Thanks to all campus recreation departments who entered data into NIRSA’s Institutional Data Set and to the NIRSA Small Programs Advisory Council for their guidance on this project.

Christine Haluzak is currently NIRSA's Director of Membership and Leadership Programs; she is available at