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The Last Word - July 2017

The Last Word with…
…Judy Muenchow

By Deborah L. Vence


What Judy Muenchow loves most about the recreation industry is the relationships and connections with people-those who work in the profession, and those who participate in recreation programs and services.

"Whether full-time career staff or student employees, people who choose to work in recreation are dedicated individuals striving to provide active, healthy options for people to incorporate into their lifestyle," said Muenchow, who is the current executive director of campus recreation at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. "It's a great pleasure to support professional and student staff in their career development. Equally rewarding is being able to contribute to participants' physical and mental well-being while providing opportunities for social interactions."

As a physical and health educator prior to 1978, Muenchow taught physical education and health education in K-12 public schools for one year and physical activity classes for two years at a Texas junior college. "Those experiences provided me with the insight that I did not want to pursue teaching physical education as a professional career. So, I returned to graduate school for a master's degree in 1975," she said.

After earning a master's in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Muenchow secured her first professional recreation position as facility coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Klotsche Center, one of the first dedicated recreation facilities built at a university. "When graduating in 1978, recreation in higher education was just emerging as a profession, and the facility coordinator position at UW-Milwaukee was advertised so I applied. And the rest is a 40-year journey through a profession I had the good fortune to become involved with at its beginnings."

What was most memorable for Muenchow as facility coordinator was being on the staff that opened up a new recreation facility to the UW-Milwaukee campus community. "It was truly a joint, hands-on effort that required a huge amount of work to get prepared, open and, subsequently, address the inevitable issues that come with new construction and implementation of a new recreation program to the campus community," she said.

"Opening the Klotsche Recreation Center in 1978 set the foundation for my professional career by providing my initial exposure to developing policy/procedures for managing a facility and addressing facility issues, equipment purchasing and maintenance, personnel management, and program/service setup and delivery," she added. "It was a very challenging experience, but I discovered how much I enjoyed all facets of those responsibilities-I found my career path!"

Muenchow worked as assistant director and then director of campus recreation at the

University of Wyoming from 1983 to 2001, while earning a Ph.D. In 2001, she accepted the executive director position at CSU.

Since taking on that position, Muenchow has overseen an impressive list of projects. One includes a $250,000 conversion of an existing softball field into a baseball field that serves as the home of the CSU Ram Baseball Club.

She also led the adoption of gender-inclusive restrooms and locker spaces, and the use of inclusive language and logos on facility signage in 2007 when designing the expansion/renovation of the CSU recreation facility. Additionally, she achieved LEED Gold certification for the expanded/renovated CSU Student Recreation facility, and established a partnership with private vendors to install a solar array.

"Colorado State University strives for high levels of sustainability and aligning with that objective, Campus Recreation partnered with CSU Facilities Management, the City of Fort Collins, and a private vendor to install the largest solar array on a campus rooftop. This project supports CSU efforts in sustainability by returning energy to the grid that lowers utility costs, and the bonus is receipt of revenue for a fixed term," she said.

In her free time, Muenchow enjoys trail riding with her husband in the Colorado and Wyoming mountains on their horses, Chief Joseph Boo-Boo and King Ramsey. What's more, she enjoys "flower gardening," "reading all genres of fiction," and "staying fit by bike riding, walk/jogging and working out" with her CSU student personal trainer, she said.

As for her future goals, Muenchow is preparing for the transition of the CSU Campus Recreation Department leadership as she steps out of the executive director role in 2018, after 40 years working as a recreation professional in higher education.