Mike has served as Director of Recreation Services at Emporia State University Since 2011. He has been at ESU since his arrival as a graduate assistant in 1988. Some of the highlights of his time at ESU include becoming the first full-time recreation professional in university history, serving on the committee which helped design and build of the Student Recreation Center, and the development of the campus wellness program. These experiences have given him extensive leadership in working with the university’s administration. Since his arrival, the program has grown from a part-time program, operating in a shared facility to now include its own standalone facility, a full range of intramurals, sport clubs, indoor and outdoor facilities operations, and a wellness program. Mike has also served on a wide variety of campus committees, including the Student Affairs Strategic Planning Committee, Disabilities Services Advisory Committee, Tobacco Free Campus Committee, chairing the Healthy Hornet Wellness Committee, and serving on the Budget Advisory Committee.
Mike has been a NIRSA member since 1990 and has served the Association in various ways. He recently hosted the Kansas State Workshops in 2014 and 2017, and co-chaired the Region IV Conference and Student Lead-On Planning Committee in 2015-2016. Additionally, Mike has served on NIRSA’s Instructional Programming Committee in 1992 and the NIRSA Intramural Programming Committee in 2007 and has done numerous presentations at the state, regional, and national levels on topics involving Co-Curricular Learning, Successfully Developing Partnerships, and Leadership Development. He is currently a facilitator for Leadership Emporia, and serves as chair of the Emporia Multi-Use Path Planning Board.
Mike lives in Emporia, KS with his wife Shelley. They have four children, eight grandchildren, and two English bulldogs, Daisy and Violet. He is a diehard member of Hornet Nation, and is into all things that involve bikes.
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?
I feel there are several areas of opportunity in our Association. High-impact learning, strengthening continued scholarship opportunities, and cultivating a culture of wellbeing through collaboration.
High-impact learning has noticeable potential to increase student engagement in measurable ways and can aid students who are looking to get into our profession. High-impact learning immerses the student in hands-on experiences. It can create strong and transferable practical experiences which enhance critical analysis and problem-solving, and can provide students an opportunity to apply experiential knowledge and skills in real-world settings. We should provide more of these opportunities at the state level so that they can build the confidence needed to lead at the regional and national level. At the same time, we can use these experiences to show curious students what our Association must offer as a profession, to help bring in new membership.
It is also imperative that we continue to grow our scholarship opportunities if we want to keep our Association strong. With today’s economy, it is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for students, to get the opportunities needed for proper development. We shouldn’t allow financial difficulties to interfere with the development needed for students to become the future leaders of our Association.
Finally, we are witnessing a lack of wellbeing today. Through Increased knowledge and awareness about improved health, and the practical application of that knowledge, students will be able to thrive and better reach their full potential. Wellness means living a healthy, balanced lifestyle that incorporates positive attitudes and productive behaviors related to social, physical, intellectual, career, emotional, spiritual, financial, creative, and environmental aspects of self. This can best be achieved through collaborative relationships within student affairs. With these partnerships, our universities can best serve the needs of our students. I feel that our profession should be playing a key role in developing these partnerships.
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.
I feel my varied experiences in NIRSA has given me the unique view, and experience necessary as we approach new opportunities. Serving on several programming committees has allowed me a unique understanding of many of the challenges we are facing. With my commitment and experience in conference and event programming, I feel I have developed the background and skillset needed to provide our region with innovative professional development needed at the state and regional level to steer not only professionals, but also students into a leadership position.
Please share your ideas for cultivating leaders in your region.
I strongly believe that a key way for our organization to not only grow, but to help instill and build leadership begins at the “grass roots” or state level. Not only is this the opportune time to have students explore and find out what NIRSA must offer, but it can give other students a greater opportunity to experiment and experience what it is like to put on an event or conference. This can provide them the opportunity to present, function within workgroups and gain that confidence needed to step out to serve at either the regional, or national level.