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Impact of Recreation Centers on Two New England Campuses

Craig E Mack, Johnson & Wales University


Traditional campus recreation centers served a practical purpose, mainly as a place to workout for students and athletes. Older facilities are being replaced by contemporary recreation centers that provide a multitude of services and have mass appeal for health conscious college populations. The construction of a recreation center can affect the quality of campus life in many ways. Accordingly, this research study explored the impact of recreation centers on two distinctly different campuses, including the effects upon campus configuration and appeal, on student recruitment and retention, and on the health and wellness patterns of students. A mixed-methods, explanatory, two-site study design (Creswell, 2002) was used, based on extreme case sampling (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003), so that the findings may offer insight to more conventional cases. The study focused on the recreation centers at two institutions of higher education in New England: a traditional, large, urban, private university and a newer, suburban, public community college. These institutions differ in the characteristics of their student bodies and in the type of recreation facility each built. Data were gathered from interviews with administrators (N = 6), a questionnaire for students (N = 318), and document analysis of institutional publications. Most student participants (77%) reported that their institution was a better place by having the recreation centers. Statistical significance was reported by upperclassmen and on-campus students who agreed that the recreation center improved the quality of their experience at the institution. Regarding health and wellness, statistical significance was found for on-campus students more than off-campus and commuter students, who tended to agree that the recreation center programs contributed to their health and wellness. The higher education leaders interviewed revealed the importance of being an integral part of the master planning processes for managing construction projects of this type. The document analyses revealed marketing efforts were essential to the effective promotion of the recreation center. Recreation centers are expensive ventures; therefore, the results of this study will be helpful to campus leaders by identifying the benefits and the potential problems for institutions working to develop existing recreational facilities and for those planning for new recreation centers.

Subject Area

Higher Education Administration|School administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Mack, Craig E, "Impact of Recreation Centers on Two New England Campuses" (2011). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3487449.