The inaugural NIRSA Directors Institute, presented by PLAE, was a fantastic success with over 60 attendees made up of directors, assistant vice presidents, vice presidents, and sponsors from 53 different colleges and universities. The institute took place in Tucson, Arizona from June 25–27. The varied experience levels of the directors allowed for stimulating conversations and incredible learning.

“I went to the first NIRSA Directors Institute and it exceeded my expectations. I learned so much from talking with directors—some I had never met before—from all over the United States and Canada,” says Linda Knight, Executive Director of Health & Wellness at the College of William & Mary. “There were vice presidents at the institute that really understood the value of recreation in the higher education setting, and they shared a lot of helpful information about our role and how we can best assist them in their role. I’m already looking forward to going again next year.”

The balanced format sparks in-depth discussions

The institute included a nice balance of educational and panel presentations, small group discussions, and socials that facilitated great networking between the attendees and sponsors. This included a service project that involved painting art that was donated to Banner Children’s Hospital in Tucson.

The opportunity for associate members/sponsors to participate in the institute and network throughout was valued by both the attendees and sponsors. “For PLAE it is all about building relationships with the Directors at the Institute,” explains Rich Gray, Executive Vice President at PLAE. “The Institute also allows us to give back to this amazing community called NIRSA.”

Thank You
2018 Directors Institute Sponsors

Core Health & Fitness
LPA, Inc.
RDG Planning & Design

A central goal of the NIRSA Directors Institute is to invite speakers within the higher education industry to address attendees. Jim Walczyk, Director of University Recreation at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, calls the institute “one of the best professional development opportunities I have attended in a long time. Solid content, well executed, and as always great NIRSA colleagues from a variety of schools to have real conversations with. I suggest directors attend this in the future if they can.”

2018 highlights

Highlights from the 2018 institute included two panel presentations made up of AVs and VPs who oversee campus recreation. During the first panel, David Bowles, Senior Director at the University of Florida, acted as moderator and asked the panelists a series of questions about advancing their career beyond director of recreation. The following experts in the field served as panelists:

  • Alex Accetta, EdD, Assistant Vice President in Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Portland State University
  • Kevin Marbury, PhD, Vice President for Student Life at the University of Oregon
  • Chris Wise, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Virginia Tech

Deb Johnson, from the University of California, Davis, moderated a second panel, guiding the panelists conversation on the future direction of higher education. The panelists included:

  • Kevin Marbury, PhD, Vice President for Student Life at the University of Oregon
  • Patty Perillo, PhD, Vice President for Student Affairs and Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Virginia Tech
  • Allison M. Vaillancourt, PhD, Vice President of Business Affairs & Human Resources at the University of Arizona

Overwhelmingly, event survey respondents reported a high level of satisfaction with their Directors Institute experience and all said they would recommend this event to a colleague. “The NIRSA Directors Institute had a profound impact on me and my career development,” says Marc Falkenstein, Director at the University of the Pacific. “The high-level conversations and presentations provided me with tools and skills to best tell my departments story on my campus. I returned to my campus energized and eager to share what I learned with my team, supervisor, and vice president. I look forward to attending this type of event again in the future.”

That’s great to hear because NIRSA is currently planning the 2019 Directors Institute—mark your calendars for another great professional development event!

  • For more information, please contact NIRSA Senior Director of Operations Mary Callender.
Senior Director of Operations at | NIRSA Profile

Mary Callender, CRSS is the Senior Director of Operations at NIRSA.