This article first appeared on NIRSA Region IV website.

It is with great sadness we share with you the passing of Doug Kuykendall (1949 – 2021), a Region IV Regional Vice President, NIRSA Board of Directors Member, Regional Award of Merit Winner, NIRSA State Director and long-time leader within our association and region.

Doug became a NIRSA member in 1974. He received the NIRSA Annual Service Award in 1999 and the 1997 NIRSA Regional Award of Merit for outstanding contributions to Region IV. Doug served on the NIRSA Board of Directors as the Region IV VP in 1992, 1993, and 1997. His service also included participation on several NIRSA committees and work teams such as the NNC Transition Work Team, Committee Structure Task Force, and Continuing Education Task Force.

Doug first attended Texas A&M University-Commerce, then known as East Texas State University, to play basketball, graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington, and earned his Master’s degree from the University of North Texas. He began his 40-year career in Student Affairs at UT-Arlington in 1973 as the Assistant Director of Intramural Sports, served as Associate Director, rose to Director of Campus Recreation and retired as an Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs in 2013. From special events he created, like Bed Races and Oozeball, to facilities built, like the Maverick Activities Center and Campus Recreation Fields Complex, his professional legacy continues to be felt today. Providing mentorship to students was important to Doug; as such, a large portion of the Texas Endowment at the NIRSA Foundation was from the annual Flag Football Tournament originally held at UTA and the Texas State Director’s Meeting (affectionately named “the Salado Meeting” after its original meeting location). Within Student Affairs, he helped establish the Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Program, the Behavior Intervention Team and the Movin’ Mavs Wheelchair Basketball Team.

At his retirement, current Vice-President for Student Affairs at UTA, Lisa Nagy described Doug as a visionary who turned ideas into reality. Adding, “Doug has always championed the importance, and valued the role of campus recreation.”

Molly Albart, Assistant Vice-President remembered Doug with the following “he inspired, supported and cheered on so many professionals over the years. His smile was contagious, his wit spot on. He was the guy you wanted to sit next to at a meeting because he could make any drab moment fun.”

Lexi Chaput, who worked with Doug at UTA, emphasized his efforts to develop the next generation of leaders in Campus Recreation. “Doug was not only committed to NIRSA through his own service, but he put a great deal of emphasis on preparing the next generation of NIRSA members and leaders. He not only supported but encouraged my participation in the association, and was never too busy to provide me with the context and education I needed as a young professional to understand the association, its importance to our profession, and the opportunities it could provide me.”

Long-time UTA staff member Chris Muller described Doug as person who had high standards for all of his colleagues. Further, “he has been instrumental in the development of numerous professional staff both within Campus Recreation as well as the Student Affairs profession.”

Stan Campbell, former NIRSA President and Director of Campus Recreation at the University of Nebraska, described Doug as a thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate, and caring leader. He added “I respected and valued his viewpoints on various issues facing the collegiate recreation profession. I will miss him greatly, both as a colleague and a friend.”

Suzette Smith, Director of Campus Recreation at UT-Southwest Medical Center recalled her first time meeting Doug and the lasting impact he left on her life. “When I was a young professional, he was the first NIRSA professional I met at a NIRSA event, granted it happened in Las Vegas at a blackjack table! I still remember the moment, he was wearing his signature beach Hawaiian shirt and he was determined to teach me how to play cards. From that moment on, he has always been there to mentor me through life decisions and the importance of how our actions will be received and remembered. It was important to stand up for what you believed in, but at the same time, remember others may not understand or agree with you. Learn to listen, be respectful and together you will go forward to a better tomorrow. I will always be grateful for his inspiration and constructive words as the helped me to mold my career.”

Doing the right thing, being charitable, and helping the underrepresented were very important to him. He was also a generous donor to the NIRSA Foundation and always answered the call when asked to make a gift. Living through the Civil Rights Movement shaped the things that were important to him, and the example he was to so many. Fittingly, he passed away on Martin Luther King Day, a day which was very meaningful to him.

The Kuykendall family appreciates your support and love during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to one of these causes impactful in the community and important to Doug:

The UTA Student Emergency Assistance Fund

By mail:
UT Arlington, University Advancement
UTA Student Emergency Assistance Fund, Doug Kuykendall Tribute
Box 19198
Arlington, TX 76019-0198

Contribute online

Ellis County Youth Expo Scholarship Fund

By mail:
Ellis County Youth Expo
Scholarship Fund, Doug Kuykendall Tribute
PO Box 91
Waxahachie, TX 75168

Contribute online

Photo credit The Shorthorn

Matthew Beck is currently the Associate Director at Oklahoma State University and the Regional Representative on the NIRSA Member Network for Region IV; you can email him at r4rep@nirsaleaders.org.