Five Things You May Not Know About NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation

by Gayle Gilham on February 3, 2020

in Featured Member

NIRSA logo image

With more than 4500 members, this not-for-profit association – whose headquarters are now nestled in Corvallis, Oregon – was founded because dedicated recreation programs and facilities at institutions of higher learning inspire diverse and sustainable communities of wellbeing through the platform of inclusive recreation. Did you know…

  1. From the time two state schools in the Midwest devoted spaces and resources to campus recreation in 1916, a century of ever-growing commitment to programming, participation, inclusion, and outside-of-the-classroom learning has prevailed for students and faculty in higher education. It all began as more and more campuses began to offer recreational sports, catching the attention of scholars who were interested in their positive effects on campus culture and students’ quality of life. Dr. William Wasson was one such scholar, discovering the value of intramurals while studying Physical Education under Elmer Mitchell at the University of Michigan in 1946. The connection between a healthy body and healthy mind continues to be explored today.
  2. Dr. Wasson went on to develop his own intramural program at Dillard University, and in 1948 commenced a study with funding from the Carnegie Foundation, titled “A Comparative Study of Intramural Programs in Negro Colleges.” In 1950, Wasson founded the National Intramural Association, convening a meeting of 20 representatives from 11 Historically Black Colleges and Universities at Dillard University in New Orleans. The NIA was the first organization of its kind, bringing intramural program leaders together for the purpose of sharing skills and wisdom to advance the good work of their profession.
  3. The face of the Association has changed a great deal over the decades, adapting its purposes and membership to changes in the profession and national culture. Since those early generations, collegiate recreation has flourished from a hodgepodge of opportunities that originally catered to the needs of a minority of students to comprise a well-integrated, inclusive range of offerings that inspire millions of students every year.
  4. Today, NIRSA members can be found on more than 950 campuses, with a busy staff and thousands of active members sharing time and skills to continue in the aim that moved Dr. William Wasson. Campus recreation departments play a vital role in the development and success of students.
  5. Where does NIRSA plan to go from here? Campus recreation professionals have for decades been collaborating to strengthen their resolve and ability to build inclusive and welcoming environments, foster positive student engagement, and advance a culture of health and wellbeing that is essential for thriving individuals and vibrant communities. Their vision is nothing short of inspiring healthy people and healthy communities worldwide as the premier association of leaders in campus recreation.

Cascade is proud to feature this member that believes participation in campus recreation programming can make our global community healthier.

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