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Sgarzi Leads NIRSA Wellness Panel

Last month, Sasaki principal and architect, Chris Sgarzi, AIA, LEED AP [pictured above right] moderated “Bridging Departmental Divides to Enhance Campus Wellness,” a panel discussion at the 2019 NIRSA Annual Conference & Campus Rec & Wellness Expo in Boston.

Sgarzi guided the discussion, which focused on innovative ways that recreation departments are reaching beyond traditional departmental boundaries to improve wellness programs. The panelists—representing institutions ranging from large public universities to small liberal arts colleges—shared their experiences in identifying non-traditional avenues for building health and wellness programs and expanding service to their larger campus community.

“In order to reach more students, you have to reach beyond your usual boundaries,” says Cyndi Costanzo, Executive Director of Recreation at the University of Connecticut. “Often, it’s not the students that are already coming through your doors that help inform what you should or shouldn’t be doing as a department. At UConn, we’ve reached out to our college government, multicultural organizations on campus, and our international student groups to better inform our programming. Those conversations help us structure programming for the future, but also helps us gauge the efficacy of our communication strategies—how many students hear about our events? Of those that do, are there ways we can improve how we position our programs?”

“At Wellesley, we have a director that oversees a student advisory committee,” says Monica Verity, Director of Recreation at Wellesley College. “They take a crowd-sourced approach to programming, and it’s worked well for us. At the committee-level, they’ll brainstorm ‘what events or program ideas should we try next?’ and we’ve had some unexpected programming successes out of that free-form approach.”

We extend thanks to the following athletic and recreation professionals who participated in this lively discussion:

  • Cyndi Costanzo, Executive Director of Recreation, University of Connecticut;
  • Tim Mertz, Director of Recreation, HealthFitness; Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
  • Christopher Morris, CRSS, Director of Recreation, Florida State University;
  • Gary Wohlstetter, Senior Associate Athletic Director/P.E. & Recreation, University of Maryland, Baltimore County;
  • Monica Verity, Director of Recreation, PERA Assistant Professor of the Practice, Wellesley College
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