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 April 2006 • NIRSA news and information
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NIRSA State of the Association Address

Greg Jordan, CRSS, NIRSA President, April, 2006


On behalf of your NIRSA Board of Directors, I am honored to provide to our membership this annual State of the Association report for your review. As a member-driven organization, the initiatives, activities and advances of our NIRSA over the past twelve months have been a true team effort, involving significant contributions by members, students, committees and work teams, state directors and members of the three boards of directors (NIRSA Board of Directors, NIRSA Services Corporation, Foundation Board of Directors) that govern our Association. All of this would not be possible without the services and expertise of the dedicated staff that comprise the NIRSA National Center Team.

While examining the accomplishments over the past year, it would be very difficult to provide a complete listing or detailed explanation of all that has transpired. While I will highlight a number of initiatives, I invite you to review the following documents and reports available on the NIRSA website or provided to you within your conference packet:

  • NIRSA Strategic Map brochure with 2005-06 accomplishments and 2006-07 strategies
  • Executive Director’s Bi-Annual Report for the 2006 Board of Directors Annual Meeting
  • Executive Director’s Financial Overview for the 2006 Board of Directors Annual Meeting
  • Comprehensive Strategic Map document

Furthermore, reports from Mick Deluca, UCLA, President of the NIRSA Services Corporation and Suzette Smith, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Chair of the NIRSA Foundation Board of Directors will be provided during the Annual Business Meeting on Friday, April 7.

The Challenges of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Without question, the devastation resulting from hurricanes Katrina and Rita impacted every member, every institution and every citizen in the United States, either directly or indirectly. All NIRSA members are very proud of those professional, student and institutional members who quickly reacted and became a significant contributor in the recovery and rebuilding efforts. Recreational sports facilities became staging areas for victims, evacuees and relief workers. Many members/employees at various institutions provided leadership in planning and orchestrating response action plans.

The NIRSA membership immediately sought ways to provide assistance to our colleagues directly affected in the five-state area. After meaningful discussion and input, and with intent to provide unique, direct support to members, the NIRSA Board of Directors adopted a plan that would, upon request of an affected member, waive membership renewal fees and/or registration fees to NIRSA-sponsored educational events for the period of one year.

2005-06 Highlights

With the most recent process and version of strategic planning adopted by the NIRSA Board of Directors in 2004 and updated for the current year as a guide, this flexible, nimble and ever-changing road map serves as a resource in undertaking new initiatives and advancing continuing services and programs to all served by NIRSA. Following are updates on the four Strategic Domains.

1. NIRSA will achieve the desired image and strategic position.

Summer and fall of 2005 provided for a very significant collaborative effort among 150 institutional members as part of the pilot distribution of Sports Illustrated on Campus to students throughout the country. The financial enhancement to member institutions and NIRSA was a benefit. Moreover, the enthusiasm by which the Protocol of Mutual Understanding participant schools embraced the complete initiative will be felt for years to come as additional opportunities are presented to our Association.

While the Certified Recreational Sports Specialist examination in its current format was discontinued by Board of Directors action in June 2005, the process of providing credentials for recreational sports professionals has been advancing throughout the year. The Professional Registry Work Team conducted an in-depth survey of members during late summer, early fall. Recommendations were developed by the work team and presented for Board of Directors consideration. The next step, which is currently underway, was to seek out and hire a qualified consultant to identify best practices in other organizations and to investigate the cost of the registry versus membership value more thoroughly before developing an implementation plan. The consultant’s report on this phase of the project is expected in June 2006. 

Recreational sports programs most often are administratively included in the Student Affairs unit within a campus setting. Those programs that report to other areas usually maintain a student development philosophy and are integrated into the Student Affairs culture. With that in mind, NIRSA Members played an active role in the Council of Higher Education Management Associations' (CHEMA) Student Affairs Group’s initiative, led by ACPA and NASPA, in publishing the new book Learning Reconsidered 2.

2. NIRSA will advance knowledge-based governance and enhance effectiveness and efficiency of operations.

With the approval of the membership at the 2005 Annual Business Meeting, we are just completing the first cycle of the restructuring of the terms of office for the regional vice presidents and the National Student Representative on the Board of Directors. While the transition appeared to be seamless and effective, the full benefits may not be felt for another year or two. In addition to the shift of the term of office for seven board members, the oversight of the Sport Club Championships Committee and the Extramural Committee was transferred from the NIRSA Board of Directors to that of the NIRSA Services Corporation. As part of the National Campus Championship Series, those events fall under the direct supervision of the NIRSA Services Corporation. 

NIRSA is a unique association that places high priority on student development and leadership. NIRSA is one of the few higher education-based associations that has a full voting student representative member on the Board of Directors. Given the commitment to students, the first-ever student leadership retreat and planning meeting was conducted at the NIRSA National Center in conjunction with the NIRSA Board of Directors’ Summer Meetings. The National Student Representative and the six Regional Student Representatives participated in successful meetings while setting goals and action plans for implementation throughout the year. Perhaps the most ambitious (and now successful) goal was to conduct a Student Lead On event in each of the six regions. The Student Leadership Team has put into place the documents, initiative and culture that will advance student development and leadership for years to come.

Financially speaking, NIRSA is at the strongest positive financial position in our history. Going back to the development and implementation of the Financial Responsibility Initiative in 2002, NIRSA has strategically moved forward in each of the last four fiscal years. While no budget in the higher education environment is totally safe, the NIRSA budget has come full circle, to the point of being able to fully fund, in the budget development process, all expenses, including building depreciation (of the National Center). Furthermore, in each of the last three complete fiscal years, and with the review and recommendations of the Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and Finance Committee, surplus net revenue has been wisely distributed into reserves, initiatives and further pay-down of the debt on the National Center.

3. NIRSA will develop a research agenda.

In the resource-competitive world of higher education, we are no longer at a point of advancing recreational sports programs, facilities and services because we make students feel good. We must be able to provide appropriate data to further our causes. NIRSA’s partnership with The Ohio State University’s National Research Institute for Collegiate Recreational Sports and Wellness will enhance our ability to document the outcome of recreational sports programs. The Advisory Committee (with NIRSA holding 6 of 11 seats) conducted the historic inaugural meetings in August 2005. Significant progress has been made on the development of protocol for projects, as well as completion of the pilot project that involves inventory of facilities throughout the country.

2005-06 also saw the completion of the NIRSA Salary Survey, the foremost complete review of compensation throughout the entire country in the programmatic and administrative areas of recreational sports programs.

Through the efforts of the Standards Committee, current recreational sports standards, as adopted by the Council for the Advancement of Standards, have been reviewed. Throughout NIRSA state and regional meetings in the fall, informational sessions were conducted to obtain member input and feedback. A town hall meeting will be conducted at the Annual Conference in Louisville, with the committee staying an extra day to put final touches on revisions to present to the Board of Directors for action.

4. NIRSA will provide deliberate and progressive opportunities that enhance recruitment, development and retention of members.

The strategic map must be an evolving document. During the Summer and Mid-Year Board of Directors face-to-face meetings, significant discussion took place regarding a need to expand the strategic map to a fourth domain that addresses membership needs. With development of specific language as an outcome of the Executive Committee meetings, with input from the NIRSA Foundation and NIRSA Services Corporation, the NIRSA Board of Directors adopted the newest version of the strategic map, which includes the membership domain. The previously mentioned hurricane relief efforts are an example of membership highlights.

The NIRSA Foundation has developed the goal of advancing the net assets of the Foundation from current levels (approximately $650,000) to $1,000,000 by 2010 through the ‘$1 Million Milestone Campaign.’ Corporate partnerships with Woodway and the United States Tennis Association have been announced. The number of restricted endowment funds has increased and continue to grow. Continued support of the Career Opportunities Center and student scholarships is present. A deliberate effort to encourage member participation is in its second year through the “Be a Star” individual giving campaign.


The work of NIRSA is never complete. By developing and implementing strategic mapping, each year the newly appointed committees, work teams, volunteer leaders and elected leaders are able to pick up where the current group ends. While not a perfect system, each year, due to the efforts of countless volunteer leaders and the dedicated NIRSA staff, improvements are made as the mission and vision of our NIRSA is advanced to newer and higher levels.

On a personal note, it has been an honor and a privilege to serve our Association as the 50th president. Having had the opportunity to visit many state and regional events, I truly appreciate the welcome extended by all with whom I came in contact. These on-site visits confirmed for me something I knew to be true, but beyond any expectation that I had. I affirmed that the programs, services and facilities we provide for our students and university communities make a significant positive difference to the overall education of the complete student, the quality of campus and student life, the development of our future leaders and the advancement of a healthy lifestyle.

There are so many individuals who assisted this past year, as I certainly was not alone in this office. I would like to thank and acknowledge:

  • Committee and work team members and state directors who worked so hard to advance our NIRSA.
  • Members of the NIRSA Services Corporation Board of Directors. I look forward to serving with you next year.
  • The Student Leadership Team. Never have I ever experienced such a dedicated group of young professionals.
  • Fellow members of the NIRSA Foundation Board of Directors. Perhaps one of the most rewarding components of serving as a member of this Board is the review of the student scholarship applications.
  • Fellow members of the NIRSA Board of Directors. It has been a pleasure to serve with you in this journey on behalf of our NIRSA. The newfound friendships will last for a lifetime.
  • The NIRSA National Center Team. You are a dedicated, hardworking group of professionals who do your job very well.
  • The Department of Campus Recreation staff at Oakland University. Your dedication and service to our NIRSA is evident as you stepped up and embraced this experience as a team. You are experts in our field and you excel each and every day. Coming to work each day (when I’m there) is a pleasure I will always treasure.
  • My family, who have sacrificed by embracing my time away from home with support and understanding.

NIRSA Colleagues, the opportunity you have provided to me to serve is one that has been truly memorable and I will cherish it for the rest of my life. As we move forward into the next year and next cycle of NIRSA life, I have all confidence that we will together continue to move our NIRSA to even greater adventures and accomplishments.

May you find the passion in your hearts for what we do as a way of life to help continue to make NIRSA what it is today and in the future.

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