The NIRSA Honor Award Committee is pleased to announce that Dr. Stacey L. Hall has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 NIRSA Honor Award! The NIRSA Honor Award is the most prestigious honor bestowed by our Association. It is awarded annually and celebrates a NIRSA member who has provided exemplary service to the Association and made incredible achievements in the field of collegiate recreation over the course of their career. Without a doubt, Stacey Hall is a fantastic choice to receive this year’s NIRSA Honor Award!

Stacey has been a NIRSA member for almost thirty years, was NIRSA President from 2016–2017, and has served the Association as part of a number of committees, commissions, and work teams—including, but not limited to, the NIRSA Recreational Sports Journal Editor Search Committee; the NIRSA Foundation Board of Directors; the NIRSA Governance Transition Team; the NIRSA Leadership Commission; the NIRSA Standards Committee; and the NIRSA Research and Assessment Committee, which she chaired from 2010–2011. She also served as host of the 2018 NIRSA Region I Conference. From early on in her career, Stacey has demonstrated her commitment to the profession and the Association. As Kim Schmidt, Director of Campus Recreation at the University of Cincinnati, puts it: “Known for her calm demeanor, strong reasoning skills, intellectual capacity, and drive for excellence, Stacey is an exceptional representative for NIRSA, the field of campus recreation, and her campus community.”

Michael “Mick” Deluca, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Life at UCLA and recipient of the 2016 Honor Award, adds, “From GA to Assistant Director to Program Director at Indiana University and then her transition to Director and now Executive Director at the University of New Hampshire, Stacey has been a driving force on her campuses with a deep commitment to student development, student engagement, and student leadership.”

Devoted to student and young professional development

While Stacey currently serves as Executive Director of Student Engagement and Development at the University of New Hampshire—a position she’s held since July 2019—she started her career in campus recreation at Indiana University Bloomington. She advanced from a graduate assistant of intramural sports position to the role of Assistant Director of Intramural Sports and Club Sports before serving as Program Director of Intramural Sports, Club Sports, and Student Development at IU from 2002–2012. Her commitment to student development has never wavered. “A consistent theme of Stacey’s time in higher education has been of service and emphasis to empowering and engaging student leadership development,” says George Brown, Assistant Vice Provost and Director of University Recreation and Wellness at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

In addition to her considerable responsibilities as Program Director at IU, Stacey focused on student development. “Stacey held the responsibility of leading our efforts with student development,” explains Kathryn G. Bayless, Executive Director of Campus Recreational Sports at IU and recipient of NIRSA’s Honor Award in 2011. “Our programming and volunteer opportunities enhanced the growth and development of students. She worked with staff to improve the ways in which we recruited, trained, coached, recognized, and assessed our student volunteers and leaders.”

While at IU, Stacey was a member of the Campus Student Leadership Development Advisory Board and served as part of the facilitation team for Lead IU, a campus-wide leadership program. She also served as the advisor for the twentieth anniversary of the NIRSA Region III Student Lead On in 2007. She worked all year with the planning team of undergraduate and graduate students. Kathy can say with confidence that Stacey “greatly assisted them as a mentor” during the successful conference, which had the highest attendance to date.

With just one story, Gregory Jordan, Director of University Recreation and Well-Being at Oakland University and recipient of the 2017 NIRSA Honor Award, makes it clear just how committed Stacey is to student development while also showcasing what an incredible impact she’s had on the profession and the Association. Greg explains that it’s traditional at each NIRSA Annual Conference for an Indiana University alumni luncheon to take place. “We go around the room table by table and introduce ourselves and share a little bit of our story,” says Greg. “In Boston, everyone at the first three tables shared a story that included working for or with Stacey in some capacity. Each individual spoke to how Stacey’s influence and examples are still with them today. Stacey’s mentorship of students, young professionals, and colleagues has left a long list of those who have been impacted by her expertise and passion.”

Kathy Lawhead, retired Senior Associate Director, Programs at Purdue University, is one of those impacted individuals. “When I went to Purdue in 2000, I came from a small program and had little to no NIRSA connection,” says Kathy. “Stacey was at Indiana University at the time and she immediately made me feel welcome. I knew that I had found a colleague that I could count on to help me navigate my new challenge at a major public research institution.”

Sarah Shouvlin, Associate Director of Programs at Princeton University, shared a similar experience. As an undergraduate, Sarah met Stacey and “was immediately welcomed with a quiet, calm, and warm demeanor, and with a genuine curiosity about who I was, where my interests lie, and how she could help me to succeed.” Over the years, Stacey “taught me more about NIRSA and the profession, advised me in personal and career matters, and coached me through a great leadership opportunity.”

At the forefront of campus recreation research

It’s impossible to consider Stacey’s many contributions to the profession without mentioning her dedication to research in campus recreation. She has shared her research findings at over 35 different presentations over the years and has published numerous scholarly articles and book chapters—not counting her doctoral dissertation—related to student development and campus recreation student employees. Very few colleagues have as much experience with research in the field.

“Stacey has served as a leader in NIRSA’s efforts to continually develop and grow the profession’s research efforts,” explains Kathy Lawhead. “This shows not only her commitment to sharing knowledge with others, it shows a commitment to contribute to NIRSA’s innovation and new initiatives. Stacey is one of the most highly respected professionals in the country with respect to research and assessment expertise.”

Stacey has served as both chair and member of the NIRSA Research and Assessment Committee, was a founding member of the Advisory Board for the National Research Institute for Collegiate Recreational Sports and Wellness, served on the NIRSA Standards Committee, and was part of the ACPA Commission IX Assessment for Student Development. She also facilitated the addition of several items to the Multi-Institutional Leadership Study to capture campus recreation engagement data more thoroughly. In recognition of her research contributions, Stacey received a NIRSA Recreational Sports Journal Award in 2005 and the President’s Award for the Article of Distinction in 2018.

Tom Kirch, retired director from Oregon State University and 2013 recipient of the NIRSA Honor Award, credits Stacey with leading the Association’s charge into campus recreation research and assessment. “Stacey has always been a champion of research and understands clearly that it is the seminal       means in which we advance our profession,” says Tom. He also makes a point of noting that Stacey was a central contributor to the development and implementation of the NIRSA Institutional Data Set, a valuable benchmarking tool used by the Association. Tom credits Stacey with leading NIRSA’s movement into the field of research and assessment.

This has been crucial to the evolution of the collegiate recreation field because “as a profession we are long past the time when we justify our programs and services by sharing how our participants feel good because of what we do,” explains Greg Jordan. The time has come for data and concrete examples of how campus recreation positively impacts the student body. “Because of Stacey’s efforts,” says Greg, “we as a profession have been more successful and we have more individuals conducting meaningful studies to continue to tell our story. Stacey is the driving force behind these efforts. Her leadership, support, and expertise in conducting and encouraging research is unparalleled.”

Not only is Stacey one of the most active researchers in the Association, but she has used research to engage and mentor many of her colleagues, encouraging them to participate in assessment efforts and serving on their dissertation committees. Her research also feeds directly into her commitment to student leadership development. “Her studies consistently address some of the most important topics of the day,” says Tom, “such as leadership development, student learning, student employment, and the impacts of physical activity.”

Scott Forrester, an associate professor at Brock University who has collaborated with Stacey on various research projects over the years—for example, the 2013 NASPA-NIRSA Assessment and Knowledge Consortium Study and the then-new research grant program—says that “Stacey continues to demonstrate commitment to research and advancing the body of knowledge in the field of collegiate recreational sports by collaborating on research with colleagues from the University of New Hampshire and disseminating the results similarly.” Sarah Shouvlin adds, “Her research has impacted higher education, and her leadership has and will have a long-lasting effect on our Association.”

An inclusive servant leader

“Stacey has represented her institutions of employment, the Association, and the field of collegiate recreation with the highest levels of leadership, principles of integrity, and unwavering commitment to service for 27 years,” says George Brown. Tom Kirch adds, “I personally applaud and appreciate Stacey’s unique skill of bringing diverse perspectives together, finding commonality, and resulting in effective results. Her inclusive approach always ensured that voices from others are heard and their opinions valued.” Her inclusivity has had a long-lasting impact for many of Stacey’s colleagues, among them Susie Mahoney, Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati.

Not a practiced networker—“I would find the one or two people who I knew in a room and stick to them like glue during an event,” admits Susie— Stacey personally helped a large professional association and a large institution seem not so daunting to Susie. “Stacey has built bridges within the profession and at my prior institution, effortlessly helping put me in situations that have furthered my own career and passions,” says Susie. “In short,” adds Sarah Shouvlin, “Stacey is special. Regardless of her official roles and titles, she will always be a leader with great influence inside and outside of the NIRSA.”

“Stacey often works behind the scenes to create opportunities where important and necessary conversations can be had all while relationships are formed or deepened,” shares Kim Schmidt. Just one example of such behavior is her role in facilitating senior leaders from numerous institutions to, explains Kim, “discuss how to better intentionally mentor women at all levels in the profession.” These efforts are reflective of Stacey’s passion for supporting colleagues even when she’s not formally expected to lead and mentor.

Suzette Smith, Director at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, calls Stacey “a quiet, exceptional leader. She does not dominate discussions but rather listens carefully to all points of view and asks thoughtful questions to elicit appropriate responses. Her integrity and advocacy of the principles of the Association, combined with her knowledge of higher education, guided the success of our profession during her tenure as NIRSA President.” Mick Deluca adds, “Her contributions in NIRSA have been countless with a common thread of selfless leadership always working for the betterment of the Association and our members.”

“Stacey has served in elected positions on the state, regional, and association level throughout her entire career,” says Kathy Lawhead. “She never hesitates to step up and contribute. It is simply who she is and what she does.” Her many contributions have been incredibly valuable to the future of the Association and the profession. Tom Kirch notes that Stacey’s service on the Governance Transition Team and NIRSA Leadership Commission came at a critical moment, heavily influencing the development and implementation of NIRSA’s Future First efforts. And Suzie Smith credits Stacey with stepping in to help the NIRSA Foundation develop a research grant program for the Association. “She was able to educate the Foundation Board of Directors on how to develop a program and execute it toward mission driven research projects,” explains Suzie. “She led a committee to craft the language that was used to share with the membership the Foundation’s goal to enhance the Association’s research mission through donated funds.”

“Stacey’s numerous awards and accolades at the institutional levels in addition to her NIRSA and higher education accomplishments show an unwavering commitment to servant leadership,” says George. Over the course of her campus recreation career, Stacey has been the recipient of several awards—the NIRSA Honor Award just her latest accolade. Stacey has received a President’s Award for the Article of Distinction, a Recreational Sports Journal Award, a National Service Award, a Region III Award of Merit, and a Professional Staff Award from Indiana University among other honors. The Hamel Recreation Center renovation and expansion project not only received a NIRSA Outstanding Sports Facility Award, but also a Pink Triangle Award from the University of New Hampshire in recognition of several inclusive elements of the project.

Celebrate your 2021 NIRSA Honor Award recipient

NIRSA would not be the association it is today without the extraordinary efforts of Stacey Hall, Ph.D. Kathy Lawhead puts it best: “Stacey is beyond humble, and when you have a conversation with her, she is 100% locked into you. She is one of the most compassionate and attentive listeners that I have ever known. She is bright and insightful and has an uncanny knack for getting others to learn from themselves. Stacey Hall is one of those rare people that makes campus recreation better. She raises the bar for all of us.”

Join your colleagues in congratulating Stacey at the 2021 Virtual Honor Award Celebration, one of the many highlights to look forward to at the 2021 NIRSA Virtual Conference & Campus Rec and Wellness Expo!  The celebration—which is open and free to all, regardless of registration status at NIRSA 2021 Virtual—will take place from 4:00pm-5:00pm Pacific/7:00pm-8:00pm Eastern on February 24, 2021.

Register for the 2021 Virtual Honor Award Celebration

In addition, NIRSA members are invited to use Tribute.co platform to create a video montage (or “Tribute”) for Stacey. This platform only requires about one minute to film and submit your video. These videos make for an unforgettable gift that shows our collective appreciation. Create your video and share your congratulations, thank-you, or fun memory.

Submit a Tribute to Stacey Hall

Celebrate Eric Nickel, recipient of the 2020 NIRSA Honor Award, on February 22

Last spring, NIRSA made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 NIRSA Annual Conference due to the widening coronavirus pandemic.

This decision forced the postponement of celebrations for 2020 NIRSA Honor Award recipient Eric Nickel, Director of University Recreation at James Madison University.

Join your colleagues in congratulating Eric at the 2020 Virtual Honor Award Celebration!  The celebration—which is open and free to all, regardless of registration status at the NIRSA 2021 Virtual Conference—will take place from 4:00pm-5:00pm Pacific/7:00pm-8:00pm Eastern on February 22, 2021.

  • For more information about the NIRSA Honor Award, contact Vicki Highstreet, Associate Director for Recreation Programming and Staff Development at the University of Nebraska and current chair of the NIRSA Honor Award Committee.