Recreation management student on an ice climbing trip near Big Sky, Montana.

In order to help students develop more skills, the Department of Human Performance and Recreation will be implementing curriculum changes starting April 2019. The changes include dividing the current recreation management major into two majors—recreation management and therapeutic management. The recreation management major will then be built by stacking five 15-credit certificates.

The five new certificates: activities specialist, adventure tourism, aquatic management, commercial recreation, and program and event management, will also be available campus-wide to all students who want to add a soft skill to their transcript.

Offering the certificates to all majors allows students from various educational backgrounds to collaborate and learn from one another according to Steve Kimpel, who currently serves as the Human Performance and Recreation Department chair.

“We’d really like our students to get to know other students from other majors,” said Kimpel. “If students from other majors come into our classes, we think that it is a great opportunity for students to understand what is going on with other majors. We’d love for our students to be inspired by other students.”

In the process of creating the five certificates, steps were taken to ensure students would make the most of their experience. To guarantee student access to their desired certificate, the planning committee arranged the certificates so any prerequisite course would already be included in the required courses.

The certificates were also designed to complement other majors and widen students’ skill sets.

“We started to look at all of the things that recreation teaches,” said Kimpel. “It teaches people leadership skills, it teaches them a lot of organizational skills, and it teaches them a fair amount of management skills. We wanted to see if this was curriculum that we could bring to other majors on the campus.”

The new therapeutic recreation major was previously an emphasis option under recreation management. By converting it into a major program of its own, students will be able to better focus on specific therapeutic career choices.

“It allows our students to focus more in depth on therapeutic modalities and to be able to take their elective credits more streamlined towards that,” said Kimpel. “We want to more clearly define the jobs that students can get with their degree.”

By focusing on more specific therapeutic careers, Kimpel believes students will stand out to potential employers.

“When a student goes out to apply for a job and they have a major in therapeutic recreation, that indicates to potential employers that this person has invested pretty deeply into therapeutic recreation,” said Kimpel. “If it is recreation management, it is not as clear up front what some of the focus areas may have been.”