Chris has served in his position as the Director of the Aquatic Center at Denison University since June of 2012. One of the first items on the agenda when he arrived on campus was overseeing construction and opening of a brand-new, $20 million-dollar facility. This project included: creating a fully functional staffing plan, emergency preparedness plan and programming from the ground up. Chris has also had the opportunity to serve on the campus-wide Emergency Preparedness Committee which helps establish emergency protocol for the campus. Prior to beginning at Denison University, Chris was the Assistant Director of Aquatics at Purdue University. While at Purdue University, Chris was responsible for developing student leaders, maintaining a safe aquatics environment and redesigning the Learn-to-Swim program. While there, he also served as interim Chair of the Safety Committee for the department as well as on the Division Scholarship Committee. Chris received his bachelor’s degree from Ball State University in 2005 and his master’s degree from Indiana University in 2007.
Chris has actively served NIRSA in a multitude of ways since becoming a member in 2005. He is currently serving his first year on the NIRSA Small Program Advisory Council and as a mentor in the NIRSA Mentorship Program for the third year in a row. Chris has also served as the Aquatics Community of Practice Convener for 2017–2018, an Annual Conference Session Proposal Reviewer for both 2018 and 2019, as well as presented at the 2018 Annual Conference and has been selected to present at the 2019 Annual Conference. Chris has been a Registry of Collegiate Recreational Sports Professionals member since 2016 and graduated from the NIRSA School of Collegiate Recreation-Level I in June of 2018
When Chris is not at work, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Autumn, getting miles on the road with his bike and living life one adventure to the next.
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?
Campus recreation offers us many unique and rewarding opportunities. Each of us as professionals face situations on our campuses that challenge the way we think and how we creatively solve problems. It is the role of NIRSA and the Member Network to help foster learning and leadership opportunities for our membership to help develop well-rounded professionals for this generation and beyond. As the Region III Representative, there are four opportunities for us to better serve our membership and our students: equity, diversity and inclusion, professional development for both our professionals and our students, continued outreach to our small program teammates, and better communication with our members.
NIRSA has always been a leader in equity, diversity and inclusion. No matter who you are, what you believe, or where you come from, there has always been, is, and always will be a home for you in NIRSA. It is our responsibility, not just as professionals in higher education, but as human beings to ensure that we make every feel welcome and that they have a voice. At a time where these rights are being challenged, we need to be the ones who stand up and continue to lead and show the world that value everyone.
As professionals in higher education, our primary responsibility is to develop our students into well-rounded, responsible leaders by giving them the skills and tools necessary to make a difference. Many times, this comes at the expense of developing ourselves professionally. As a regional representative, it would be my goal to provide unique and engaging learning opportunities to our members through our regional and state workshops as well as through webinars, online based learning, and other 21st century learning platforms. Providing scholarship opportunities to both our professional members and our students should also be a priority for the region. Funding should never stand in the way of someone learning and as a region, it is our responsibility to make that happen.
Small Programs, Big Ideas. This was the mantra of the NIRSA Small Programs Advisory Council last year at the Annual Conference and it is something that has stuck with me ever since. As a part of our efforts on inclusion, remembering our small programs and the amazing work they do is crucial to the continued growth of the association. Making sure that all institutions have a voice, whether they are large public land grant universities, small private colleges, or anything in between, is the responsibility of the regional representatives. Providing opportunities for our small programs to lead and make a difference only strengthens our region and our association as whole.
How do we best communicate in such a digital age? This is a question that many of us ponder on a daily basis, whether it is communicating with our students or our administration. The Member Network is charged with providing their region with critical information from NIRSA and vice versa. As the Member Network, we must find new and engaging ways to get critical information to our regions.
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.
As someone who has been a professional in campus recreation for close to 13 years, I have had many opportunities to serve NIRSA. These experiences have given me vast experiences which have prepared me for the role of Regional Representative for Region III.
One of the most unique experiences I have had has come from working at both a large, public research institution with 40,000+ students as well as a small, liberal arts institution with 2,200+ students. This diverse perspective has given me the ability to communicate with and connect to professionals at any institution in our region. By finding common ground and learning from each other, both small and large programs can make each other stronger and as the Region III Representative, it would be my responsibility to foster these relationships.
As a professional member at a small institution, this has allowed me to serve as the Convener of the Aquatics Community of Practice, present at both the NIRSA Annual Conference and ORSA State Workshop, serve as a mentor in the NIRSA Mentorship Program and begin a two-year term on the NIRSA Small Programs Advisory Council this past spring. Throughout all of these experiences, I have learned that listening and engaging are two important qualities you must have. Listening to the members in our region and truly understanding the needs we face is something that will be invaluable as regional representative. Engaging ties directly into this as the regional representative is also responsible for engaging the region and bringing information and communication from NIRSA itself to the membership. This sort of go-between role is one that I have held throughout my career in all of the positions I have held.
Leading a region of NIRSA and working with NIRSA takes great effort and has to be done in a timely manner. My experiences with event management have taught me the value of collaboration, delegation and keeping to deadlines. The regional representative is tasked with collaborating with all the state associations and facilitating the work of campus recreation on the local level. As a leader, I strive to facilitate meaningful conversations and impactful action with those that I work with, and as the regional representative, this would be no different. By placing the right people in the right roles, the state associations, the region and NIRSA as a whole will grow and continue to innovate in recreation and wellness for our campus communities. Being a leader also means taking the time to be a mentor. As the regional representative, it would be my goal to find and develop the next generation of student and professional staff leaders to keep our association moving forward and continuously growing.
Please share your ideas for engaging volunteers and identifying leaders in your region.
The best way to engage volunteers and recruit leaders is to first give them the opportunity. Whether it is through serving on state or regional committees, volunteering at Lead-On or leading a RecChat, presenting at a state workshop or creating a webinar for professional development, giving our members the opportunity to set up and lead and as many options as possible is the key to building our region. Holding a formal leadership role is not for everyone and that is okay too. By offering research opportunities or mentorship roles, those who do not want a title can still be involved. My main focus as the regional representative would be about creative ideas and actionable implementation instead of titles.
As the regional representative, it would be my responsibility to help our students and new professionals feel comfortable as they embark on their journey through campus recreation and ensure that they have the resources and tools they need to be successful. This also applies to reaching out to our small programs. Letting these programs know that they are not alone in this profession and helping them feel welcome at our conferences and workshops, whether they are a one person show or lead a large team, is paramount to the continued growth of NIRSA as a whole. As the regional representative, I would be a voice for all members in our region, not just the few. At the end of the day, it is all about giving back to an association, a region, and a profession that has given me so much. Having spent my entire career in Region III, I firmly believe this is the greatest region in NIRSA and serving as the regional representative would allow me to continue to advance our region forward and create a positive environment for all.