THE OPPORTUNITY

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is seeking a new director of campus recreation who will provide visionary leadership, supervision, and management of Campus Recreation facilities and programs, including intramural sports, club sports, well-being, and fitness. As a member of the newly formed Well-being, Access, and Prevention Leadership Team, the director has a unique opportunity to collaborate with colleagues from the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, the Center for Health Promotion, and Disability Services, to build holistic wellbeing programs.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) is a public research and land-grant university in Amherst, Massachusetts, and the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system. With 1,300 faculty members and more than 30,000 students, UMass Amherst is the largest public university in New England and is ranked among the top 30 public universities in the nation. The campus, located on nearly 1,450 acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts, 90 miles from Boston and 175 miles from New York City, provides a rich cultural environment in a rural setting close to major urban centers. UMass Amherst is a highly residential campus, with over 13,000 students living in university housing.

The Position

ROLE OF THE DIRECTOR OF CAMPUS RECREATION FOR UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST

The director of campus recreation is responsible for department oversight of 12 full-time staff, over 300 student staff, and nearly a $2 million budget. The director will play a central role in developing creative, state-of-the-art programs and services that animate physical fitness in a comprehensive way among students, faculty, and staff; support staff and student leadership; and articulate connections between campus recreation and academic success. Additionally, the director will develop funding models and support for expansion of facilities and programs, ensuring that the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a national leader in the profession.

The director is passionate about recreation and wellbeing and provides leadership and mentorship, fostering principles that encourage integrity, student well-being, diversity, and inclusiveness, while promoting an environment of excellence and success.

Reporting to the executive director of wellbeing, access, and prevention, and located within the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life, the director will:

  • direct, design, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive high-quality Campus Recreation program that meets and balances the needs of the campus community;
  • create, organize, direct, and supervise all aspects of the recreation program;
  • provide advice and counsel to University senior management teams in relation to the recreational, intramural, wellness, and athletic sport clubs’ needs of the campus as requested;
  • monitor participation trends to ensure that offered activities reflect student as well as other UMass constituency interests;
  • oversee the development and implementation of all programmatic policies, procedures, and guidelines. This includes working with various Athletics Department offices (Business and Facilities) and campus constituencies (EHS, Risk Management) to ensure comprehensive policies/procedures are in place as needed to revise these policies/procedures;
  • direct supervision of two full-time employees; indirect supervision of 13 full-time employees and part-time, undergraduate, and graduate student employees;
  • prepare and submit the Campus Recreation budget;
  • manage all revenue activities of the Recreation program, which includes oversight and implementation of procedures to ensure compliance with all Department, University, State, and federal policies surrounding cash handling and deposits;
  • manage all expenditure activities of the Recreation program, which includes oversight and implementation of procedures to ensure compliance with all Department, University, State, and federal policies surrounding expenditures and work with Athletics Business Office on all procurement procedures related to expenditures;
  • direct all personnel activities of the Recreation program, which includes oversight of payroll activities, issues related to student employee discipline and grievance aspects, and conducting all part time and full-time personnel actions (searches, evaluations, grievances, etc.);
  • direct a comprehensive hiring and training program for all student and non-student positions;
  • act as liaison to Athletic Facilities, Custodial Services, and Physical Plant;
  • oversee the equipment maintenance and replacement program to ensure a comprehensive and safe recreation environment. This includes, but is not limited to selection, purchase, installation, and maintenance of all computer, software, and audiovisual components in the Recreation Center and satellite locations and all cardiovascular and weight machines and equipment;
  • provide indirect supervision of the Athletics Department Sport Clubs Program, including the allocation of the annual sport club budget;
  • oversee selection of new Athletic Sport clubs, intramural activities, and fitness/wellness workout offerings;
  • oversee a comprehensive Recreation Center schedule including academic semesters, intersession, summer, exam periods, holidays, and spring break;
  • oversee the development, creation, and implementation of the Intramural Activity Calendar throughout the year for the main Recreation Center and the various satellite locations;
  • direct the creation and implementation of marketing activities of the Recreation Center to increase all Recreation revenue streams, including membership sales, wellness classes, and facility rentals, while balancing the needs of the various constituencies that utilize the Recreation facility;
  • lead the content and maintenance of the Campus Recreation website;
  • work with Conference Services, Continuing Education, and other campus departments to create programming access to recreational facilities for their constituencies;
  • provide students and all users with a positive recreational experience focused on healthy behavior and individual well-being through recreational activity programs;
  • provide student employees with leadership development, personal learning, team building, and shared goal-oriented opportunities;
  • hear and resolve appeals for sanctions imposed under the Intramural Sportsmanship-Civility System;
  • evaluate emerging trends and execute implementation to ensure timely and relevant information and services to the institution;
  • apply strategies to attract and serve underrepresented groups;
  • represent the department at regional and national clinics and conferences and serve on departmental committees; and
  • facilitate collaborative programming across campus departments, division, and the community as appropriate, to further the mission of the institution.

HISTORY OF THE POSITION

Jeanne Orr and Jason Incorvati are currently serving as interim co-directors of Campus Recreation. They provided leadership after the departure of John Blihar, who served in that role for seven years and navigated the organizational restructure which formerly housed campus recreation within Athletics. In 2019, the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life formed the Well-being, Access, and Prevention Leadership Team and began a search for an executive director, resulting in the hire of Dr. Elizabeth Cracco. This newly formed leadership team within the division positions Campus Recreation, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, the Center for Health Promotion, and Disability Services, to synergistically build holistic wellbeing programs.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

UMass is seeking a dynamic and experienced professional to lead recreation and fitness in a comprehensive way for students, faculty, and staff. The director will have a broad role leading the campus in the development of creative, state-of-the-art physical fitness programs. Close collaboration with key constituents including Human Resources, Campus Life, student organizations, Athletics, and academic departments will be essential for the success of the new director.

Additional priorities, challenges, and opportunities for the director to exercise leadership and impact positive change in the UMass community have been articulated by stakeholders as follows:

  • Opportunity to build robust and comprehensive community-facing programs which embrace equity and inclusion and an appreciation for a community culture engaged in ongoing education and dialogue on equitable practices and behaviors.
  • Work closely with divisional and institutional leadership to advocate and lead conversations regarding ongoing renovation and construction projects.
  • Develop a departmental mission and ethos focused on customer service, operational excellence, teamwork, and communication.
  • Evaluate and assess campus recreation and develop a strategic plan that encompasses departmental operations; programs and services, including club sports, fitness, and long term planning for outdoor recreation and esports; facilities usage, maintenance, and expansion; and organizational structure, optimal staffing levels, and configuration for achieving departmental goals and priorities.
  • Develop funding models to support new facilities and staffing needs, including the development of new revenue sources.
  • Formulate a professional development plan for staff members within the department and work with University Employee and Labor Relations to strengthen communication, support, and evaluation.
  • Develop ongoing, outcomes-based assessments of facilities, services, programs, and activities.
  • Opportunity to take a leadership role within the wellbeing, access, and prevention leadership team and contribute to institutional student engagement goals.
  • Establish effective relationships with campus and community partners.
  • Support division-wide and department-specific goals and objectives.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

The UMass director of campus recreation will be a strong partner and collaborator across the campus. The new director will be an innovative and savvy strategic thinker, will work with others to develop and implement a vision, and will inspire the campus community to come together to accomplish shared goals for the future.

At an appropriate interval after joining UMass, the following will initially define success for the new director of campus recreation:

  • Staff in campus recreation can articulate a common vision and mission and will feel valued as members of the campus recreation team. They will see communication throughout the department has increased in both quality and quantity.
  • Well-being, Access, and Prevention colleagues feel supported, encouraged, and heard and the director of campus recreation is seen as a critical partner in building a holistic wellness model that is supported by the work of the campus recreation department.
  • Campus recreation programs and participation are considered important to the student experience and student belonging.
  • Partners across campus such as Athletics and Physical Plant feel like valued colleagues and partners.
  • Student employees see their work in campus recreation as a valuable and intentionally developmental part of their student experience.
  • Students and staff see the new director of campus recreation as being both approachable and accessible; an advocate who supports programs; and through a student-centered orientation, builds rapport with students and seeks their input.
  • Club sports will be fully re-integrated into the Campus Recreation department and long-term evaluation on the growth and expansion of outdoor education has begun.

Qualifications

QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS

The successful candidate will possess a master’s degree in a related field and have demonstrated progressive professional experience within a campus recreation or wellness organization, including experience with multiple facilities and programs, staff supervision, and budget management; a proven ability in leading organizational transformation, with capacity to effect change in the institutional culture and operations; demonstrated knowledge of the importance of health, wellness, recreation, and fitness to a campus community as well as an understanding of the theories, principles, and practices of student development and higher education administration; and strong communication, organizational, fiscal, and relationship building skills with the ability to work collaboratively with key campus and community partners.

Additionally, the following characteristics and attributes were identified by various stakeholders when considering the director for campus recreation position:

  • A strong transformational leader with the ability to effect change and utilize adaptive leadership to successfully thrive in a changing environment.
  • The emotional intelligence and political intuition to navigate the University’s strong institutional culture.
  • Demonstrated experience developing and leading campus-wide wellness initiatives.
  • A record of superior communication and presentation skills, successful relationship building, and collaboration with internal and external stakeholder groups.
  • Demonstrated experience effectively supervising, advocating, coaching, and mentoring professional staff and providing staff with meaningful professional development and recognition opportunities to further expand their learning and growth.
  • A demonstrated orientation toward equity and inclusion and cultural competency in all aspects of campus life.
  • Experience managing the construction, renovation, and opening of campus recreation facilities.
  • Highly collaborative communicative style with the capacity to foster relationships with key stakeholders, campus leaders, and community partners.
  • Knowledge of and experience with membership development, budget management, financial projections, and revenue enhancement for campus recreation facilities.
  • Robust entrepreneurial spirit with the ability to generate new ideas and see the idea through to implementation.
  • Forward-thinking leader with a strong vision for the department and its future growth and potential.
  • Decisive leader with the capability to make tough decisions while also explaining the rationale behind those decisions.
  • Commitment to integrity, respect, transparency, and honesty in all endeavors.
  • Familiarity with technology/social media and how to leverage these media to more effectively reach constituents.
  • Strong background in student development and an understanding of its importance in recreational sports within students’ collegiate experience and student success.
  • Engaging and encouraging supervisor with a healthy sense of humor, appreciation for his or her staff, and constructive reputation on campus and within the profession.
  • Knowledgeable about national best practices in campus recreation, including the concept of using research and assessment to guide decision making.
  • Be flexible to adapt to changing circumstances and committed to continuous assessment and process improvement.