Rick is currently the Director of Recreation and Wellness Center at Stanford University where he oversees an extensive recreation program which includes fitness, group exercise, personal training, intramural sports, aquatics, and special events as well as customer service programs including the membership service. Prior to coming to Stanford in 2016, Rick led the Recreation and Wellness Department at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) for 15 years. At CSUSB, Rick took a small program and grew it into a comprehensive program. This included all stages of building, opening, and operating a new recreation center including passing several student referendums to support recreation programming. Likewise, programs were added in group exercise, personal training, outdoors, and climbing that did not previously exist as well as developing the largest special event on-campus. At the time of leaving CSUSB, the recreation program was rated by students as the highest-quality student affairs program at the university. Rick served on many committees within student affairs and the university including the Student Health Oversight Committee, Athletic Facilities Masterplan Committee, and the Palm Desert Campus Masterplan Committee. Rick has led or been involved with many strategic planning initiatives for the programs, Student Affairs, and the university throughout his career. Rick also held full-time positions at San Diego State University and UC Irvine. Rick earned his bachelor’s degree at UC Irvine and his master’s degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Rick has been a NIRSA member since 1991 and has served the association in many capacities including at the Southern California State Director. Additionally, Rick has chaired or been a member of various committees including the finance committee, national conference program committee, and many more. He has also presented at various regional conferences and symposiums.
Rick lives with his wife Judy near Portola Redwoods State Park. They have two children, Josie, a senior at UC Santa Cruz, and Ryan, a sophomore at the University of Utah.
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 Association has evolved tremendously since its founding. We lead impactful programs on our campuses. We have met our current tagline of Leaders in Campus Recreation. With the recent update of the NIRSA Strategic Plan, we have the opportunity to be more than just leaders in recreation. We are on our way to becoming leaders in the health, wellbeing, education, and success of our students. Studies prove that our programs and facilities are an important factor in the recruitment, retention, and, ultimately, graduation of our students. We are sharing our story, but we have a long way to go. It is imperative that we continue to push our message with our peer associations, colleagues, and the upper administration on our campuses to be looked to as leaders in solving campus initiatives.
In recent years, mental health has become an increasing concern. Our students are coming to campus with enhanced needs than previous generations. Many of our campuses are addressing the symptoms by hiring more counselors and clinicians. While these positions are extremely valuable and necessary, they are but one component to the community-wide solution. Our campuses must use a holistic approach to address this issue. Numerous studies have shown the value of our programs have on our student’s health, wellbeing, and coping skills. NIRSA has the opportunity to be one of the leaders in this area. We need to provide our members resources on how to share this message with their campus presidents and other decision makers who can fund these initiatives. An integrative relationship with our campus partners will cement our important role as well as enhance the impact we provide our students.
Similarly, collaborating with our peer associations and colleagues on our campuses can continue to break down barriers to help students feel welcomed, included, and safe. In this role, I will advocate for our association to further develop relationships with our peer organizations and market the value of the work that we do. If our campus colleagues hear the value of collaborating with us through their work, it will create further momentum to address the needs of our students.
Lastly, I look forward to the chance to collaborate, plan and lead with the representatives from the other regions in the United States and Canada to further our association. We are uniquely situated to address these campus issues. We need to continue to share our impact. As a representative on the Member Network, I will listen to the needs of each of you and share them widely. I will reach out to those who are already doing a great job in our key strategic areas to help NIRSA give our members the tools to be successful on their campuses. The ability of the Member Network to work together to meet the needs of our membership and highlight and communicate how these needs are incorporated into the strategic plan and vision of NIRSA is key to the future of our association.
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.
There are many aspects to this role that excite me. I have worked at five universities in Region VI and have been a director at the last two for 19 years. In these roles I developed a program from the ground up and have gone through several strategic planning initiatives for the department, the Division of Student Affairs, and the university. I am a NIRSA Region VI member for more than 29 consecutive years and have served on numerous committees, task forces, and conference planning committees. Most importantly, I would not have been successful in my career without NIRSA. The role models, mentors and colleagues I met through NIRSA have greatly influenced my success. I want to continue to spread the word to others as well as represent and advocate for the members of Region VI.
I thoroughly enjoy collaboration, working with students, and planning initiatives. The networking, education, and mentorship provided by NIRSA to its membership is priceless. Recently, I was fortunate to be one of the co-chairs of the Region VI Conference in Riverside. This role allowed me to co-chair the Student Lead-On with the Region VI Student Representative. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience in supporting the Regional Student Representative and the Student Representatives from each state to develop a one-day comprehensive experience. The Lead-On exposed approximately 100 students from the region to NIRSA and provided leadership opportunities to the students on the committee.
Communication and collaboration is essential for the success of this position. In this role, I will work tirelessly to inform our members of what is going on. I will work equally hard to reach out to colleagues who are not familiar with NIRSA as well as those who were once members but for one reason or another let their memberships expire. I will reach out to these potential members and let them know what is going on locally, regionally, and nationally so they can experience the spirit of NIRSA and see the value of becoming a member. As the Southern California State Director, I saw this firsthand when I collaborated with the Northern California State Director to put on a two-day workshop in Palm Springs. We put on an affordable workshop. Many of our attendees decided to attend because of the low cost of attendance and our efforts to reach out to new members. In the role of Member Network Regional Representative, I will proactively communicate with those in the region who provide services to their university community.
In addition to the leadership positions listed above, here is a short list of my NIRSA involvement:
*NIRSA Finance Committee
*National Conference Program Committee
*Chair, Mark Fletcher Fun Run/Polar Plunge Committee
*Career Opportunities Center Committee
*Outstanding Sports Facilities Awards Committee
*Regional and Symposium Presentations
The experiences I gained and the synergy created by working with both professionals and students in Region VI increase my appetite to work more throughout our region.
Please share your ideas for engaging volunteers and identifying leaders in your region.
I am honored to have numerous mentors in my career who have made huge impacts on their campuses and within NIRSA. These mentors allowed me to grow within this profession and instilled within me the notion to give back. They never demanded it, but they were perfect role models by their actions. That is what I love about NIRSA. The membership is passionate about what they do and are motivated to give back.
My role will be to capitalize on this passion and communicate the opportunities through multiple avenues. I need to meet our members where they are to communicate with them. On the flip side, I will make myself available and listen to the needs of the members in the region. I want to cultivate our members’ professional development desires with the needs of NIRSA. In all of the committees I have led, I listened to what excites each committee member and recognized their skill sets. The committee members’ ownership of various aspects of the committee enhanced their involvement and leadership development, but most importantly their participation exponentially improved the event beyond my imagination.
One example of this success was the Student Lead-On. After helping lay down the foundation of the event with the committee, the students led the successful event. I am committed to encouraging more student involvement in NIRSA. Likewise, I will work collaboratively with the professional members in each state to get them involved to enhance our association. NIRSA is only here because of its members. My goal will be to communicate with our members to hear and understand their priorities. From there, I can link their passion and goals to leadership opportunities within NIRSA. I see the role of the Region VI Member Network Representative to advocate for our members so that the goals and strategic plan of NIRSA are perfectly united.
The remaining piece of cultivating leaders in Region VI is to make sure they are recognized for their contributions. I plan on doing this one-on-one but also in the communication to the region. I strongly believe that recognizing their efforts will not only create goodwill, but will foster an atmosphere of appreciation and willingness to continue to give back. Similarly, I believe this will encourage others to get involved.
I am grateful to my mentors for the leadership they provided me and for the opportunities to give back. Following their example, I have encouraged numerous students and young professionals throughout my career to get involved with NIRSA. Their professional development has always been of the utmost importance to me. Providing an opportunity to attend a NIRSA National Conference was a great opportunity for them and NIRSA ignited their passion. In this position, it will be my role to capitalize on this passion to get new members involved for the first time, keep those who are involved excited about their opportunities to give back, and remind others of the value of NIRSA and what motivates them about our profession.