NIRSA Awards

NIRSA Honor Award

The NIRSA Honor Award is the highest award given by our Association. It recognizes a member for outstanding achievements in the profession and exemplary service to the Association.

Each year award recipients are recognized through a variety of mediums, including press releases, social media, and various digital displays and announcements at conferences throughout the year.

The nomination period has ended.

Nominations are currently closed

Nominations are due November 16, 2021.

Submit a Nomination


To be eligible for nomination, the individual should meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a NIRSA Member in good standing (former members retired from the profession retain eligibility)
  • Have at least eight years of experience in the field of collegiate recreation
  • Be a member in good standing and exemplify standards of ethical behavior, consistent with the NIRSA Member Code of Ethics

Nomination Requirements

Prepare a letter of nomination indicating how your nominee exhibits outstanding volunteer leadership in the Association and exceptional leadership on their campus by addressing the Eligibility and Selection Criteria:

  • Nominee must have at least three letters of support from NIRSA members to be considered
  • Encourage others who know the nominee to submit their own letter and provide additional insight (It is a conflict of interest for serving committee members to submit a nomination letter and recommendation for any nominee)
  • Nominators must provide accurate data relating to dates and accomplishment for cited contributions
  • Submit your nomination materials via the link at the top of this page

Selection Criteria

Your letter of nomination should address your nominee’s qualifications within as many of the following areas as possible:

  • Participation in efforts of significant breadth or impact to the services or programs of the Association
  • Contribution in efforts to support the Association through times of transition, change, self-assessment, or planning
  • Innovation or fulfillment of new initiatives within the Association
  • Contribution to the Association’s commitment to serve and recruit a diverse membership
  • Influence, motivation, or support in the development of students, young professionals, or emerging leaders in the profession
  • Contribution to the learning or scholarly endeavors of others through research, assessment, teaching, presentations, or publication development
  • Accomplishment of goals or strategic projects, through appointed roles or elected office within the Association at the institutional, state, regional, or national level
  • Enhancement of the visibility, awareness, or impact of the profession and/or the Association to external organizations, business or governing entities, or individuals

Additional characteristics/achievements that will be considered:

  • Volunteerism with public or civic organizations
  • Honors and awards

Tips for writing letters of support for Honor Award nominees

  • Don’t just say how wonderful your nominee is; give solid, well described examples of how your nominee meets or exceeds the selection criteria, and provide honest, specific information by expanding on examples from their resume
  • Show how your nominee was involved in volunteer leadership and give concrete examples as to what was accomplished as a result of their leadership
    • Example: “as an active member of three national committees, and the chair of two, (nominee) worked on (committee, sub-committee, leadership group) and was instrumental in hosting the (symposium/workshop, etc.)”
  • List ways your nominee has provided support to students and young professionals
  • Share your nominee’s significant contributions to their campus, showcasing any involvement in the support of NIRSA goals and professional and student development

Previous Recipients

1963 – 1969

1963 — George Haniford, CRSS, Purdue University
1964 — Paul V. Keen, University of Oklahoma
1965 — John Heffernan, Brown University
1966 — Earl Riskey, University of Michigan
1967 — Embra C. Bowie, Morgan State College
1968 — Albert E. Lumley, Amherst College
1969 — William N. Wasson, CRSS, Wayne State University

1970 – 1979

1970 — Al C. Zuaro, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
1971 — Ross E. Townes, North Carolina Central University
1972 — J. Clinton Hollinger, The Cooper Union
1973 — Paul H. Gunsten, CRSS, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
1974 — H. Edsel Buchanan, CRSS, University of Nebraska, Omaha
1975 — Ned A. Linta, Delaware Valley College
1976 — A.A. “Sonny” Rooker, CRSS, Governor’s Commission on Physical Fitness, Texas
1977 — David O. Matthews, CRSS, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
1978 — C.E. “Pat” Mueller, University of Minnesota
1979 — Ellis J. Mendelsohn, CRSS, University of Louisville

1980 – 1989

1980 — Will M. Holsberry, CRSS, Oregon State University
1981 — William A. Thompson, CRSS, Long Beach City College
1982 — Chuck Schelsky, CRSS, Oklahoma State University
1983 — Louis Marciani, CRSS, University of Southern Mississippi
1984 — William G. Manning, University of California, Berkeley
1985 — Dennis A. Corrington, CRSS, Texas A&M University
1986 — Richard F. Mull, CRSS, Indiana University
1987 — Tom R. Jones, CRSS, Central Michigan University
1988 — Don C. Bailey, CRSS, University of North Texas
1989 — Gene Lamke, CRSS, San Diego State University

1990 – 1999

1990 — Bill Vendl, CRSS, California State University, Long Beach
1991 — Mary A. Daniels, CRSS, The Ohio State University
1992 — Patti Holmes, CRSS, Holmes Training & Development
1993 — Charles E. Fisher, CRSS, Oregon State University
1994 — Judith Bryant, Georgia State University
1995 — Horace Moody, Southern University
1996 — Jesse A. “Tony” Clements, CRSS, University of Illinois
1997 — Janet C. Gong, University of California, Davis
1998 — Jeff Vessely, Indiana University – Purdue University, Indianapolis
1999 — J. Michael Dunn, Ohio State University

2000 – 2009

2000 — Lawrence Preo, Purdue University, West Lafayette
2001 — Hazel Varner, CRSS, Keene State College
2002 — Stan Campbell, CRSS, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
2003 — Natalie Kovac, CRSS, NIRSA National Center
2004 — Samuel Hirt, CRSS, Vanderbilt University
2005 — Pat Besner, University of Toledo
2006 — John T. Meyer, CRSS, University of Colorado
2007 — Tom Dison, The University of Texas at Austin
2008 — Sid Gonsoulin, CRSS, University of Southern Mississippi
2009 — Sue Ivie Boling, CRSS, Virginia Commonwealth University

2010 – 2019

2010 — Patricia “Patti” Bostic, University of Connecticut
2011 — Kathryn George Bayless, CRSS, Indiana University
2012 — Juliette R. Moore, CRSS, The University of Arizona
2013 — Thomas G. Kirch, RCRSP, Oregon State University
2014 — Mark Fletcher, University of Virginia – Learn more
2015 — Moe McGonagle, DePaul University – Learn more
2016 — Mick Deluca, UCLA – Learn more
2017 — Greg Jordan, Oakland University – Learn more
2018 — Vicki Highstreet, RCRSP, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Learn more
2019 — Stan L. Shingles, Central Michigan University – Learn more

2020 – 2029

2020 — Eric Nickel, James Madison University – Learn moreWatch the Reception
2021 — Stacey L. Hall, Ph.D. – Learn moreWatch the Reception

For More Info

For more information about the NIRSA Honor Award, please contact the NIRSA Leadership Programs Coordinator, Chelsea Hansson.