David Davenport has been the Director of University Recreation at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN since March 2003. As the Director of University Recreation at Austin Peay State University, David’s initial tasks were to accomplish three goals: 1) Build a program from ground up; 2) build a team of recreation leaders and 3) build a new facility—all of which were solidified within five years, opening a new facility January 2007. A native of Atlanta, GA, David previously held the responsibilities of Assistant Director of Recreational Sports at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, where he also earned his Masters of Science in Education as a Graduate Assistant. Prior to attending Old Dominion, David worked at a private school for boys in Winchester, VA where he utilized his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree which he earned from Appalachian State University. It was at Appalachian State University where he was introduced to collegiate recreation as a participate then as a student employee.
David has been a member of NIRSA since 1989 when he was on the host team of a NC State Workshop followed by attending his first Region II conference. Since this David has been involved in a variety of capacities with NIRSA including but not limited to:
- At-Large Member with the Board of Directors from 2015–present
- Member Network Region II Rep from 2009–2011
- Virginia State (VRSA) Director
- Hosted state workshops in Tennessee and Virginia
- Committee chair, member, and advisor to the People of Color Social and Emerging Recreation Sports Conference
- Committee member to the Nominations and Elections (currently known as the Nominations and Appointment), Facilities Management, and Programs Service Awards
In October of 2015, David’s responsibilities were enhanced by the additional role of Chief Diversity Officer for Austin Peay State University which has allowed him to be more intentional in his growth in leadership and administration.
David’s pasttimes include spending time with his family—namely his 17-year daughter and 22-year-old son—officiating basketball, wrestling and baseball, being a member of Rotary and his fraternity (Kappa Alpha Psi), and traveling.
What role do you envision for collegiate recreation in higher education?
I envision the role of collegiate recreation in higher education as one having credible relevance. In today’s society, more than ever before, collegiate recreation serves as a ‘classroom without walls’ as we get to voluntarily be engaged with individuals (student workers, participants, professional staff, community members, vendors, etc.) who are looking to assist others from a recreation and wellness component. Every opportunity in which we are involved allows for skills that become transferable in many aspects of society norms and situations. Some of these skills come naturally, but some need to be enhanced as our society continues to adjust to everyday opportunities. Recreation, Fitness and Wellness does not have a limited scope of everyday life yet acts as opportunities to deal with life and everything involved. Those engaged in our field walk through the doors by choice, not by mandate, and are present because they want to be there. We don’t have to force feed individuals, but many times what we offer serves a need or provides a coping mechanism to help deal with life situations and opportunities.
In alignment with the NIRSA strategic plan, what are three priorities that you would identify and believe NIRSA should accomplish during your time on the board and why are these most important?
- Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)
- Relevance in higher education
- Member Engagement, particularly for direction of the Association
In today’s society, social, political, and spiritual issues are prevalent and relevant in many aspects as our membership is comprised of a diverse group of folks who engage with a diverse group of folks. If NIRSA is going to be a thriving, progressive organization it must be able to be opportunistic with its members and other relevant organizations as well as respond proactively to key issues. To be the authority, knowledge source, and innovator on the impact of collegiate recreation NIRSA must be prepared as well as prepare its membership to function accordingly. Our association is progressively moving in the direction of better enhancing the objectives of its membership; and in doing so, expanding its members’ engagement opportunities aligned with current societal norms and concerns.
What attributes, experiences and knowledge could you contribute to the NIRSA Board of Directors that speak to the competency based requirements?
I think my attributes include, but are not limited to, my ability to collaboratively engage members, to clearly and effectively communicate, to critically think and make decisions, and my ability to lead with honesty, integrity, and trust as well as embrace the core principles of NIRSA. My experience as a NIRSA member involved in a variety of opportunities coupled with my professional roles and organizations has allowed me to be able to understand dynamics with forward thoughts to move the organization in a positive direction in the best interests of our membership.