Ryan has served at the Director of Campus Recreation for CENTERS @ University of New Haven since May 2013. Prior to this position, he served in various professional roles at Loyola University Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.
In his current position, Ryan’s work focuses on administration, supervision, facility operations, project management, fiscal management, risk management, customer service, emergency action planning, and programming. Throughout his career, he has developed strategies to improve operations, maximize resources, identify opportunities, and create areas for growth. His acumen for business operations within university operations has provided him with a strong sense to consider return on investment, risks (both short and long term), and impact on students into his planning and decision-making. Over the past five years, he has implemented various operational and programmatic enhancements such as growth of club sports, access to additional facility space, enhanced policies and procedures, reprioritization of budgets/resources, and several facility/equipment upgrades.
Throughout campus, Ryan embraces a spirit of community and partnership. He has served on various committees/initiatives such as Campus Events, Student Competency Development, Student Conduct, Student Wellness, Assessment, Strategic Planning, and University Spirit. He collaborates and provides guidance on various campus events and programs.
Ryan has been a NIRSA member since 2004. Over his career, he has volunteered in various capacities from serving on several conference and workshop host committees including chairing the 2017 Region I Conference, serving within Region I on the Contingency Fund Scholarship and Contingency Fund Oversight committees, and serving on the national Nominations and Appointments Committee. He has presented at national and regional conferences, with his most recent presentation at the 2018 Region I Conference.
Ryan lives in Hamden, CT with his wife of 10 years, Katie and their two children, Lily and James. As a New Jersey native, he is a diehard NY Yankees fan and as a resident of Maryland for eight years is a diehard Baltimore Ravens fan. He loves spending time with his family exploring the history and scenery of New England.
What do you see as opportunities in collegiate recreation and our Association? How would you collaborate with the Member Network team to address these issues?
Our profession and higher education as a whole will face several challenges as we head into the future. A prevalent issue we will face in the northeast specifically is the decline of the number of students graduating high school and attending college. Various data points and studies show institutions will face stiff challenges to meet enrollment goals. As enrollment declines, budgets of auxiliary and student services will be quick to follow.
Most will say this is a challenge; I on the other hand view this as an opportunity. I have always viewed my peers as leaders and innovators on their campuses. Though the fear of decreased budgets will be frightening to others, students and professionals in campus recreation can begin to prepare now. We can start by expanding our knowledge base from traditional programs such as intramurals and group fitness to what is important to Generation Z students such as esports, wellness outreach programs, and career competency building. From there we can better educate our young professionals on tactics on how to tell their story and how what they do directly affects students in a framework that is relevant to their higher administration. In my opinion, this is directly in line with the objectives of the Small School and Community College Task Force where most professionals have to wear multiple hats within their institution. We need to make this educational track not only essential but also more importantly accessible, not only at the regional and annual conferences but also at state workshops and over digital mediums.
Another opportunity I see is to expand the information and data available to our members. I know the Member Network is pushing the Institutional Data Set; however, I feel there is still a gap between those who understand its power and those who either do not know or do not care. I believe continued grassroots marketing is crucial, but an additional step of gathering antidotal examples of how it is used to justify additional resources, positions, or budgets can make it tangible to others.
As mentioned previously, accessibility is a large opportunity for our organization. We have great educational sessions and resources available to our members. We need to find efficient methods to include our members who cannot afford to attend conferences. I believe we need to launch an e-ticket for the annual conference and potentially regional conferences. I see this as an effective tool of NASPA, where I can eat lunch with colleagues on campus and attend sessions virtually.
The final opportunity centers on Region I and creating efficient and sustainable practices for our conferences and contingency fund. In my appointments to the Contingency Fund Scholarship and Contingency Fund Oversight committees under the previous Region I Member Network Representatives, we have begun the process; however, there are still items which can be streamlined. I will look recruit volunteers for our committees in Region I and ask them to challenge the status quo and bring innovative ideas to the forefront.
In describing your contributions to NIRSA, identify how your involvement and experiences meet the position criteria and qualify you to serve NIRSA in this role.
With my experiences serving our organization, I believe this position is the next logical step. The most valuable experiences that have prepared me to serve as the Region I Member Network Representative center around hosting several regional conferences, serving on the Contingency Fund Oversight Committee, and serving on the Nominations and Appointments Committee.
The Contingency Fund Oversight Committee has provided me a full understanding about how our region operates and what we value. In this time, I was able to collaboratively plan and outline a true purpose for the contingency fund, standardize operating balances to create a sustainable plan for the upcoming years, and standardize methods to distribute and request funds. Above all else, I have learned that our members cherish a transparent and fair process on how we utilize these funds.
Planning a conference is never a small undertaking. As everything is an opportunity for partnership, my first goal before even submitting a bid for the 2017 conference was to approach the other Great New Haven Institutions and ask for their support and service on the host committee. My site team and I were met with an astounding wave of support and excitement. This wave then continued all the way through planning and soliciting presentations through the end of the conference. This all reinforced what I already knew in that our profession is made of passionate individuals who all want the chance to be involved, whether it is serving on a committee, volunteering as a session monitor or presenting at a conference. If elected as the Region I Member Network Representative I will find, encourage, and embrace the service of my fellow members.
Early in my career, I always viewed roles such as the Board of Directors and Member Network representatives as positions for which I would never be qualified. This did not come from a lack of confidence, but rather a misinterpretation of their backgrounds and qualifications. The Nominations and Appointments Committee provided me with an opportunity to see behind the curtain and a direct insight as to why certain individuals were encouraged to apply and slated for positions. This was eye opening as these individuals all shared a few major characteristics: they were strategic about their approach to problem solving, they were personable with their fellow members and most importantly, they had a true passion for campus recreation and the impact we provided to our students and campus communities. For me this was turning point where I knew I would pursue this position as I also hold these items dear and want to give back to the organization which has given me so much.
Please share your ideas for engaging volunteers and identifying leaders in your region.
I believe in order to engage members and recruit leaders we must take a two-pronged approach. The first is to find ways for students and young professionals to volunteer and serve on committees. The second is to reinvigorate our experienced members to either return to service or take on new responsibilities. Both approaches stem from accessibility. This position needs to be someone who reaches out formally and informally to their members. The monthly e-mails are important, but boots on the ground at regional and state workshops is essential. Some cases require picking up the phone and speaking to our members, especially when we find certain institutions have been absent from our events.
Leaders are not always those who stand on a soapbox. We need to identify the soft-spoken, action driven leaders who can keep challenging us to be better. I find the best way to engage those members is by networking and putting feelers out for committees and initiatives. Those are the conversations where you hear the phrases “you know who would be good for that” or “I think this is in their wheelhouse.”
I list these ideas, as they are the sole responsibility of the position; however, it needs to be cultivated within and by the support network of this position; including the student regional representative, the state directors, state student leaders, and committee chairs. This position will need to lead by example and encouragement, always reinforcing the notion of who will be the individuals to repopulate and reenergize committees. When appointing committees, we need to ensure there is a diversity of opinions who represent our various institutions, i.e. public vs private, large vs small, etc.