ROLE OF THE POSITION

Rutgers University is seeking a creative and dynamic executive director of recreation. The executive director provides visionary leadership, innovation, and senior decision-making for recreation services and facilities on the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus. The executive director fosters a strong partnership between the five centers across the four campuses, promoting each in a unified, cohesive, and meaningful manner and cultivating a consistent, high-end student and patron experience. The executive director is responsible for comprehensive and dynamic department oversight of 28 full-time staff, several part-time staff, approximately 600 student employees, and an operating budget of $8.6 million.

Reporting to the assistant vice chancellor for health & wellness within the Division of Student Affairs and serving on the divisional Administrative Leadership Team, the executive director provides visionary and strategic leadership, supervision, and management of recreation programs and facilities, including Intramural Sports, Fitness/Wellness, Aquatics, Club Sports, Outdoor Adventure and Climbing Wall, Marketing, Promotions, Facility Reservations and Rentals, Member Services, Personal Training, Business Operations, Facility Management, Student Development, Human Resources, Building Services, Equipment Maintenance, Technology Services, Field Maintenance, and all other aspects of recreation within the University. The executive director will play a central role in developing inclusive, accessible, and creative state-of-the-art programs and services that contribute to the comprehensive education of students, promoting opportunities for learning, interaction, and collaboration to help develop a stronger sense of community, engagement, and belonging.

The executive director oversees comprehensive strategic planning, goal setting, and assessment initiatives and implements best practices related to wellness and campus recreation; develops and maintains risk management protocols for all recreation activities and programs following best practice models of NIRSA- Leaders in Collegiate Recreation professional association best practices; provides a learning-centered environment for students and student employees/managers, as well as creating a culture of assessment and innovation; and develops and oversees budget and facilities planning for the department, including support for new and/or significant capital plan improvements and associated funding models ensuring that Rutgers is a national leader in collegiate recreational sports, fitness, and wellness. The executive director builds and maintains collaborative relationships with University leaders and units, including Academic Affairs, Athletics, and Development; serves as an advocate for both present and future recreation and wellness needs of the campus; serves on and leads campus-wide committees; and participates in professional associations and meetings at the local, state and national level.

 

The Position

QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS

Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a wellness- or recreation-related field, ten or more years of progressive experience managing a dynamic campus recreation/wellness organization, including experience with multiple facilities and programs, staff supervision, budget management, and a valid driver’s license. A master’s degree in a related field, engagement in NIRSA-Leaders in Collegiate Recreation professional association, and certifications in First Aid, CPR, and Pool Operation are preferred. The successful candidate will have a proven ability in leading organizational transformation, with a 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. A demonstrated commitment and orientation toward diversity, equity, access and inclusion in all aspects of campus life will be essential in selecting the next executive director of recreation.
Additionally, the following characteristics and attributes were identified by various stakeholders when considering the executive director of recreation position:
  • A transformational leader with the ability to effect change and utilize adaptive leadership to thrive in a changing environment successfully.
  • Demonstrated experience developing and leading campus-wide wellness initiatives.
  • Demonstrated experience effectively supervising, advocating, coaching, and mentoring professional staff, providing them with meaningful professional development and recognition opportunities to further expand their learning and growth.
  • Commitment to integrity, respect, transparency, and honesty in all endeavors.
  • A record of superior communication and presentation skills, successful relationship building, and collaboration with internal and external stakeholder groups.
  • A demonstrated orientation toward diversity, equity, access and inclusion, in all campus life.
  • Strong background in student development and an understanding of its importance in recreational sports within students’ collegiate experience and student success.
  • 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.
  • Strong entrepreneurial spirit with the ability to generate new ideas and see the idea through to implementation.
  • A forward-thinking leader with a strong vision for the department and its future growth and potential.
  • Knowledgeable about national best practices in campus recreation, including the concept of using research and assessment to guide decision-making.
  • The emotional intelligence, political intuition, persistence, and patience to navigate the University’s strong institutional culture.
  • Decisive leader with the capability to make tough decisions while also explaining the rationale behind those decisions.
  • Experience managing the construction, renovation, and opening of campus recreation facilities.
  • Engaging and encouraging supervisor with a healthy sense of humor, appreciation for their staff, and constructive reputation on campus and within the profession.
  • Be flexible to adapt to changing circumstances and committed to continuous assessment and process improvement.
  • An attitude and orientation that is positive, encouraging, and visionary.

HISTORY OF THE POSITION

Dave Williams served as executive director of recreation from 2017 until the summer of 2022. Currently, the position is being filled on an interim basis while a national search commences.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE

Rutgers seeks a dynamic and experienced professional to lead recreation for students, faculty, and staff comprehensively. The director will have a broad role in leading the campus to develop creative, state-of-the-art physical fitness programs. Close collaboration with key constituents, including Athletics, Institutional Planning & Operations, and Academic  Affairs will be essential for the success of the new executive director.
Additional priorities, challenges, and opportunities for the executive director to exercise leadership and impact positive change in the Rutgers community have been articulated by stakeholders as follows:
  • There is a distinct 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.
  • The executive director will lead a departmental mission and vision focused on customer service, operational effectiveness, teamwork, communication, leadership development, and inclusive excellence.
  • The next executive director has an opportunity to develop a dynamic senior leadership team that activates and further develops individual skill development, creates a shared sense of purpose, and encourages alignment with divisional priorities and collaboration. As a seasoned supervisor, the executive director should formulate a professional development plan for staff members within the department and work to strengthen communication, support, and evaluation.
  • The executive director should bring a robust administrative orientation to the role. They will be required to evaluate and assess campus recreation and develop a strategic plan that encompasses departmental operations; programs and services, including aquatics, club sports, intramurals, fitness, outdoor recreation, and the challenge course; facilities usage, maintenance, and expansion; and organizational structure, optimal staffing levels, and configuration for achieving departmental goals and priorities.
  • Rutgers is a large and complex environment. The next executive director should establish effective relationships with campus and community partners and prioritize thoughtful and transparent communication.
  • The institutional and divisional strategic plans showcase the opportunity the executive director and the recreation department have to join campus-wide programming and support holistic wellness and well-being.
  • The next director will participate in conversations with divisional and institutional leadership, including evaluating current facilities, the feasibility of centralized recreation facilities, and long-term renovation and construction projects.

MEASURES OF SUCCESS

The Rutgers executive director of recreation will be a strong partner and collaborator across the campus. The new executive 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. Rutgers University is excited to host the Big 10 Collegiate Recreation Conference in mid-May 2023.
At an appropriate interval after joining Rutgers, the items listed below will initially define success for the executive director of recreation.
  • The talented and dedicated professional and student staff in recreation can articulate a shared vision and mission that highlights the integral role that recreation plays in the student experience and will feel valued as members of the recreation team.
  • The executive director provides responsible stewardship of multiple facilities and a substantial budget.
  • Campus partners appreciate clear and consistent communication, clarity in policies and practices related to facility reservations and priorities, and a more intentional and formalized sense of partnership and colleagueship.
  • Recreation programs and participation are essential to the student experience and belonging. Outcomes and assessments of those contributions are used to validate that perception.
  • The executive director and the recreation department are seen as strong campus partners within the Division of Student Affairs and the larger university.
  • Student employees see their work in recreation as a valuable and intentionally developmental part of their student experience.
  • Recreation is seen as a critical partner in building a holistic wellness model that is supported by the work of the campus recreation department.

Institution & Location

RECREATION MISSION STATEMENT

To enhance the mind, body, and spirit of students and other eligible individuals by providing programs, services, and facilities to meet the campus community’s physical, social, recreational, and educational needs.

RUTGERS RECREATION OFFERS

Rutgers Recreation manages recreational facilities on each campus/location, and each facility has its own combination of aquatic, outdoor, and/or fitness amenities, including:
  • Four large recreation centers (one on each campus), one free-standing fitness center and 20 acres of outdoor space, an Olympic pool with a diving tower, an 80-foot climbing wall, , a large picnic pavilion, and an outdoor roller hockey rink.
  • Over 100 fitness & wellness classes each week, personal & small group training, and massage therapy.
  • Dozens of outdoor trips, swimming lessons, and certification opportunities.
  • Fifty-four club sports and a top 50 intramural program with 256 teams and  over 5,000 students combined
  • Employment and professional development of over 700 student leaders.
  • Exciting yearly events include RU Muddy and the Big Chill, the largest 5k run/walk in New Jersey.
  • Family and community programming, including children’s swim lessons, summer camp, and birthday parties.
Aquatics: Learn to swim, obtain a safety certification in CPR, Life Guard Training, or First Aid. The highlights of the facilities are three pools, reflecting the latest in design and functionality. These include an Olympic-sized pool that meets all world standards and another that raises and lowers its floor to accommodate a variety of recreational activities.

Sport Clubs: The Club Sports Department at Rutgers University consists of 54 student-lead organizations, with Women’s Wrestling and Round Net as the two newest clubs with nearly 3,500 participants on all five New Brunswick campuses of the State University of New Jersey.
  • Athletic Trainer: Through a partnership with RWJ Somerset, all Rutgers Club Sport athletes benefit from having access to an on-site certified athletic trainer. Certified athletic trainers are here to evaluate, treat, and rehab your injuries.

FACILITIES

Each location has its combination of aquatic, outdoor, and/or fitness amenities. Students can make an appointment for a free fitness orientation to check them out in person and arrive ready to break a sweat. *on-site pool

OVERVIEW OF STUDENT AFFAIRS

Comprised of 23 departments, over 1,000 staff members, and more than 2,300 student staff members, the Division of Student Affairs at Rutgers University-New Brunswick facilitates interactions among students, faculty, and staff members to promote students’ academic success and personal and professional development. Our staff members are committed to working with students to enrich the quality of student life so that students achieve at Rutgers and beyond.

Sal Mena – Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Dr. Salvador Mena came to Rutgers in August 2014 as the associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs. In this role, he served as the deputy to the vice chancellor for Student Affairs and helped manage the Division of Student Affairs. Over the last 20 years, Dr. Mena has served college students at different institutional types, including both public and private colleges and universities. Prior to Rutgers, Dr. Mena served as an assistant vice president and dean of students at the City University of New York. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in higher education, student affairs, and international education policy from the University of Maryland at College Park, a master’s degree in student development in higher education, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maine. Nationally, Dr. Mena has been involved with several higher education professional organizations, including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). He is a regular presenter at national conferences and has published in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice . He also contributed a book chapter in Cultural Centers in Higher Education: Perspectives on Identity, Theory, and Practice. 

Francesca Maresca – Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs – Health & Wellness
Francesca M. Maresca, Ph.D., CHES, joined Rutgers University as a health education specialist for Rutgers Student Health – Health Outreach, Promotion and Education (HOPE) in 2001, focusing primarily on sexual and reproductive health and mental health. In 2006, she became the director of HOPE, overseeing education and prevention initiatives, including sexual and reproductive health, mental health and suicide prevention, alcohol and other drug education, nutrition, and wellness. In addition, she is responsible for assessing overall health and wellness, co-chairs the Rutgers University JED Campus Initiative and the Division of Student Affairs Health and Wellness Committee.
In 2021, Dr. Maresca stepped into the role of interim assistant vice chancellor for health and wellness. With oversight of Rutgers Student Health, including medical CAPS, HOPE, and Recreation, she guides the health and wellness vision for the campus, works collaboratively with partners across the university community, and elevates wellness as a priority for students, faculty, and staff. Her work still includes working closely with peer educators, the Sexual Health Advocates, and training faculty, staff, and students in mental health literacy and suicide prevention. Areas of expertise include sexual and reproductive health and justice, mental health/suicide prevention, and LGBTQ+ health and wellness in higher education. Dr. Maresca is a Certified Health Education Specialist and Mental Health First Aid trainer.  In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the Graduate School of Education.
Prior to joining Rutgers University, Dr. Maresca had roles at New York University and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Rutgers University–Newark College of Arts and Science, a master’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in gender studies, and a PhD in health, human sexuality, marriage, and family education, both from New York University.

INSTITUTIONAL OVERVIEW

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, stands among America’s highest-ranked, most diverse public research universities. You’ll find Rutgers as the oldest, largest, and top-ranked public university in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area at any of the main locations in three New Jersey cities. Its footprint can be seen around the region. We’re an academic, health, and research powerhouse and a University of opportunity.
Mission
As one of the leading comprehensive public research universities in the nation, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has a threefold mission of:
  • Providing for the instructional needs of New Jersey’s residents through its undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs.
  • Conducting innovative research that contributes to the medical, environmental, social, and cultural well-being of the state, as well as aiding the economy and the state’s businesses and industries.
  • Performing public service in support of the needs of the residents of the state and its local, county, and state governments.
Each component of the University’s mission reinforces and supports the other two.
Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence, conducting research that breaks new ground, and providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

RUTGERS UNIVERSITY DIVERSITY PRIORITIES

In January 2021, Rutgers announced five priorities that encapsulated areas that guide the diversity strategic planning process at the university,
Recruit, Retain, and Develop a Diverse Community
Attract a university community that more closely reflects the state of New Jersey, paying particular attention to underrepresented populations among students, faculty, and staff. Provide strategic support to build the capacity of individuals to engage across differences in identity and experience, attending to the difference between compositional diversity and an inclusive community. This dimension refers to community outreach efforts to build awareness of Rutgers as a destination of choice for students, faculty, and staff, professional development to support the development of multicultural competencies, and engagement opportunities to cultivate an inclusive culture promoting connection among underrepresented groups.
Promote Inclusive Scholarship and Teaching
Value and support research and teaching that advances an understanding of diversity, inclusion, equity, and access. This dimension refers to the centering of students’ backgrounds, experiences, and cultural/linguistic frames of reference as well as the experiences of indigenous and other marginalized communities, reviewing and amending the curriculum to promote understanding of diversity and equity within academic disciplines, and promoting/supporting scholarly research on equity and social justice—as well as the scholars who produce it.
Define Sustainable and Substantive Community Engagement
Leverage Rutgers’ educational mission to improve outcomes and reduce disparities for underrepresented and underserved populations in the communities that our campuses are embedded in throughout New Jersey. This dimension refers to marshaling the University’s core activities of teaching, clinical service, research, student, trainee, and staff engagement in service of the public good, promoting the institutional commitment to the community on and off campus. We must engage our public, ensure community engagement is reflected in the curriculum, reward community-engaged research and scholarship, and nurture reciprocal relationships with community institutions. We aspire to serve as institutional anchors, moving beyond location “in” and being “of” and in partnership with the surrounding community.
Build the Capacity of Leaders to Create Inclusive Climates
Equip leaders to address systemic racism, homophobia, sexism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, etc., and promote inclusion in their areas of responsibility. This dimension refers to promoting an understanding of how bias and discrimination along visible and invisible identity are woven into the fabric of institutions of higher education and disrupt recruitment and retention efforts, highlighting how issues of institutional culture impact climate and unit culture, and build confidence in their ability to act in real time when instances of inequity appear.
Develop an Institutional Infrastructure to Drive Change
Create and sustain an infrastructure that supports accountability for institutional change. This dimension refers to the procedures, processes, policies, resources, organizational structures, recognition and rewards for progress, metrics, and other evidence to drive intentional decision-making around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

INSTITUTIONAL LEADERSHIP

Jonathan Holloway – President
Jonathan Holloway, a U.S. historian, took office as the 21st president of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, on July 1, 2020. He also serves as a university professor and distinguished professor.
Before accepting Rutgers’s presidency, Dr. Holloway was provost of Northwestern University from 2017 to 2020 and a member of Yale University’s faculty from 1999 to 2017. At Yale, he served as dean of Yale College and the Edmund S. Morgan Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies.
President Holloway’s scholarly work specializes in post-emancipation U.S. history, focusing on social and intellectual history.
He serves on boards of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Universities Research Association, the Institute of International Education, and the Academic Leadership Institute. In 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy appointed him as one of four co-chairs of the state’s Wealth Disparity Task Force.

Application & Nomination

APPLICATION and NOMINATION

Review of applications will begin Friday, February 10, 2023, and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Dell Robinson at ddr@spelmanjohnson.com or Anne-Marie Kenney at amk@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

The anticipated hiring range is $150,000 to $170,000 annually.

Rutgers University requires all prospective employees to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated and have received a booster (where eligible) against COVID-19 prior to commencement of employment unless the University has granted the individual a medical or religious exemption. Employees who are not eligible for a booster at the time of an offer of employment must provide proof they have received a booster upon eligibility and upload proof of same. Under Policy 100.3.1 Immunization Policy for Covered Individuals, if employment will commence during Flu Season, Rutgers University may require certain prospective employees to provide proof that they are vaccinated against Seasonal Influenza for the current Flu Season unless the University has granted the individual a medical or religious exemption. Additional infection control and safety policies may apply. Prospective employees should speak with their hiring manager to determine which policies apply to the role or position for which they are applying. Failure to provide proof of vaccination for any required vaccines or obtain a medical or religious exemption from the University will result in the rescission of a candidate’s offer of employment or disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Visit the Rutgers University website at https://www.rutgers.edu/.

It is university policy to provide equal employment opportunity to all its employees and applicants for employment regardless of their race, creed, color, national origin, age, ancestry, nationality, marital or domestic partnership or civil union status, sex, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, disability status, liability for military service, protected veteran status, affectional or sexual orientation, atypical cellular or blood trait, genetic information (including the refusal to submit to genetic testing), or any other category protected by law. As an institution, we value diversity of background and opinion and prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of any legally protected class in the areas of hiring, recruitment, promotion, transfer, demotion, training, compensation, pay, fringe benefits, layoff, termination or any other terms and conditions of employment. For additional information, please see the Non-Discrimination Statement at the following web address: http://uhr.rutgers.edu/non-discrimination-statement