The Western Illinois University Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration (RTPA) will begin offering students five new options, and a new minor in youth leadership beginning in Fall 2020.
Next semester, the department will begin offering a Bachelor’s of Science degree in RPTA, with five transcriptable options: Adapted Recreation and Inclusion; Community Organizations; Outdoor Recreation; RPTA; and Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management. The department will also offer minors in Event Planning and Management; Hospitality Management; Nonprofit Administration; Recreation, Park and Tourism; Therapeutic Recreation; and a new minor in Youth Leadership. The minors are available for students in any major.
“I am extremely pleased and excited to see how ahead of the curve our department faculty, in conjunction with our loyal alumni base, industry professionals and partners, continue to be in shaping an innovative curriculum that prepares our students to be successful in the broad field of recreation and hospitality,” said Interim RPTA Chair Michael Lukkarinen. “Our students will be well positioned with our new transcribe-able option areas and minors that allow them to tailor their learning to make them very well prepared and sought after in the job market.”
The department designed the new options to meet regional and national leisure industry needs. There has been significant growth in the use of therapeutic recreation, and the need for adapted physical activity providers and individuals trained to work with marginalized populations. As the population of the United States ages, and becomes more diverse, there will be an increased need for individuals capable of delivering programs specifically designed for those with disabilities and marginalized communities; these needs will be met through the Adapted Recreation and Inclusion option.
The Community Organization Option was designed for students interested in careers in Public Recreation, Nonprofit Administration and Youth Leadership. In the state of Illinois, there are more than 300 park districts, roughly 100,000 nonprofit organizations and an incalculable number of organizations involved in delivering youth programs.
Historically, RPTA has been a national leader in outdoor recreation curriculum, and its Outdoor Leadership minor and Resource Management curriculum laid the groundwork for RPTA being recognized as a WIU Signature Program. While the Outdoor Leadership minor serves a subset of students on campus interested in expeditions and adventure recreation, the Outdoor Recreation option would provide a wider range of curricular opportunities for those interested in working outdoor education, leadership and resource management.
While tourism and hospitality industries are being hard-hit by the current world situation, and will likely be altered in the future, the demand for Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management (THEM) will rebound. Students completing the THEM option will have the opportunity to use their elective choices as a way to tailor their skills for employment in travel industries, tourism, destination marketing, events, restaurant management, lodging and facility management.
The RPTA option within the major is designed for students who need the maximum level of flexibility in regard to scheduling. It is well-suited for non-traditional and transfer students.
Since recreation program was established at WIU in 1968, the department has been a leader in training recreation professionals. In 1978, it was one of the first 10 programs of its kind in the country to be accredited by the National Recreation and Park Association. Throughout the 1980s, the department’s curriculum grew, and in 1989, it changed its name to include tourism.
To meet the growing needs for experienced industry practitioners across the state, RPTA began offering courses on the WIU Quad Cities campus in 1998. When the hospitality management program merged into the department in 2018, it provided an impetus for the department to once again update its offerings to better meet the needs of the ever-growing leisure industries.
While all options are available to students on the Macomb campus, students attending on the Quad Cities campus can also complete the options in Community Organizations and Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration.
For more information about the programs, contact Assistant Professor Jeremy Robinett at [email protected] or (309) 298-1967.