Feature Article - June 2011
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Colleges & Universities

A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities

By Emily Tipping

Campus recreation, sports and fitness facilities act as more than a place for students to go play and work out, often serving as a community hub for the student populations they serve. Recreation centers and sports facilities are often the centerpiece of higher education campuses, and can provide not only an outlet for students to get a much needed-break and exercise time, but also act as a recruitment tool, attracting potential students with their rock climbing walls, leisure pools, high-tech fitness centers, juice bars and more.

Many colleges and universities combine functions at their recreation centers, adding in wellness and student health services. It is a natural fit, as these highly used facilities serve the mental and physical health of the student body. Adding health services to the mix ensures that students have a central hub where they can prevent illness and injury, as well as treating it.

College and university respondents were most likely to report in from the Midwest. More than a quarter (25.9 percent) of these respondents were from that region. This was followed by the South Central region, where 20.6 percent of college respondents call home. Another 19.6 percent were from the South Atlantic, and 17.4 percent were from the Northeast. Some 15.6 percent were from the West, and 0.9 percent were from outside the United States.

While respondents from all industry segments were most likely to work in suburban communities, college respondents were most likely from urban areas. Some 37 percent of college respondents said they worked in urban areas. Another 34.8 percent were from suburban communities. And, 28.2 percent were from rural areas.

Respondents from colleges and universities were more likely to operate a smaller number of facilities than respondents from parks and recreation organizations. In fact, more than two-thirds (67.4 percent) of college and university respondents said they operate three or fewer facilities. This compares with 37.9 percent of parks respondents who operate three or fewer facilities. Just about a third (32.9 percent) of college and university respondents said they operate just a single facility.

Respondents from colleges and universities were less likely than respondents from other industry segments to indicate that they partnered with other organizations. Still, a majority (78.3 percent) of college respondents do form such partnerships, down from 81.5 percent last year. The most common partnerships were found with other colleges and universities. More than half (53.1 percent) of college respondents said they partnered with other colleges. They were followed by local schools (38.8 percent); state government (35.9 percent); local government (29.8 percent); and nonprofit organizations (25.6 percent.)