Recently, we had a chance to talk with longtime NIRSA member Larry Mellinger, Director of Campus Recreation & Wellness at Elon University and member of NIRSA’s Concussion Advisory Council, about his experiences with the NIRSA School of Collegiate Recreation and what led him to volunteer as a faculty member.
Deciding to volunteer
NIRSA HQ: Why did you decide to volunteer to be a member of the NIRSA School Faculty?
Larry: For me, it was always a question of when I would volunteer to serve on the NIRSA School Faculty, rather than if I would volunteer. I graduated the NIRSA School Level I in 2004, and it was the single most impactful and transformative professional development experience I had as a young professional.
Ten years later I participated in Level II of the NIRSA School, and after that I started to seriously consider when the timing would be right for me to apply to serve on the NIRSA School Faculty. When I came to Elon University in 2015, I felt that I could contribute to the planning and delivery of the curriculum and had the institutional and family support to make the three-year commitment. So I applied and feel fortunate to have been selected.
The rewards of volunteering
What do you feel like you “get” most out of this experience?
It’s hard to know where to start. There are countless hours of preparation that go into planning the NIRSA School, so one of the most rewarding moments is when you finally get to experience the event with the 48 participants and other five faculty members and see ten months of hard work come to fruition.
This signature NIRSA event is such an immersive experience that attendees develop authentic, meaningful relationships with the members of their cohorts and with the faculty leading the event throughout the School; it’s refreshing to find yourself in an environment with people who want to learn and grow from each other, especially since the NIRSA School typically falls at the end of an academic year—it’s a great reminder going into the summer of why we do the work we do, and how bright the future of collegiate recreation is.
I always come back rejuvenated and ready to tackle my summer to-do list. But I have to admit that the most rewarding part of the School for me is getting to work with the other members of the faculty. We are constantly sharing ideas, readings, podcasts, and other resources throughout our planning, and I never could have imagined how much I would grow professionally. They have become some of my most trusted colleagues and closest friends, and for that I will always be grateful for this experience.
What are some reasons you’d recommend others consider volunteering as a member of the NIRSA School Faculty?
Everyone in NIRSA shares the responsibility of advancing collegiate recreation and wellbeing; not just on our own campuses, but for the profession as a whole. We all need to be thinking about how we can cultivate future leaders within our field, and I can’t think of any better opportunity to do that on an Association-wide level than the NIRSA School.
While it is a lot of work, it has been worth every minute considering the impact the School has on its participants, how I have grown professionally, and the relationships I have developed during my time on the NIRSA School Faculty.
- For more information about serving on the NIRSA School Faculty, please contact NIRSA Professional Development Coordinator John Raskauskas.