The second NIRSA Directors Institute, presented by PLAE, was filled with stimulating educational content, opportunities for networking, and discussions that highlighted collaboration. The event was a success with 45 attendees made up of directors, vice presidents, vice chancellors, associate deans, and sponsors from 38 different colleges and universities. The institute took place in Park City, Utah from June 10-12.

“I very much appreciate the smaller setting for this type of learning and conversation!” says Kimberly Rottet, Director of University Recreation at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “The topics were very relevant to where I am at within my director journey, and helped shed some light on challenges others are facing as well.”

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. A central goal of the NIRSA Directors Institute is to invite speakers within the higher education industry to address attendees. For the 2019 Institute, this meant representatives from Housing and Enrollment Services spoke as did Tim Harding, the Associate Dean of Career Development and Engagement from the University of Tampa and member of the

“The Director’s Institute was a valuable experience that allowed me to connect with other directors who are passionate about seeing our students succeed on our campuses,” explains Chris Suriano, Director of Wellness & Health Promotions at the University of North Dakota. “We learned from each other and worked together to find solutions to the challenges that we experience on a daily basis.

Highlights from the 2019 institute included presentations like the intersection between wellbeing, resilience and student engagement; preparing students for the workforce; and a presentation on political capital. Additionally, there were two panel presentations. During the first panel, Teri Bladen, Director of Campus Recreation at Weber State University, acted as moderator and asked the panelists a series of questions about the role campus recreation can play in helping solve institutional problems. The panelists included:

  • Mick Deluca, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Life, UCLA
  • Lionel Maten, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Director of Student Housing, University of Mississippi
  • Brett Perozzi, PhD, Vice President of Student Affairs, Weber State University

Rich Mylin, Director of Recreation at the University of California-San Diego, moderated a second panel on creating and leveraging partnerships on campus. Those panelists included:

  • Lionel Maten, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Director of Student Housing, University of Mississippi
  • Russ King, Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives, University of California San Diego
  • Stan Shingles, Assistant Vice President, Central Michigan University
  • Kate Smith, Director of The WELL, California State University, Sacramento

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.

While the overall experience and level of satisfaction has been very high the past two years, maintaining or growing attendance at an annual Directors Institute poses some challenges.  Discussions are underway with the Content Team, NIRSA HQ, and the NIRSA Board of Directors to research options that may include moving the event to every other year. No matter what the outcome, the networking and collaboration between campus recreation professionals and other higher education representatives can only further the end goal of student success.


  • 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.