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October 24, 2002 Future Search is on for Recreation and Athletics



by Laurie Zack

What happens when you put 70 people from various sectors of the university and guests from the neighbouring community into a room for three days? An explosion – of ideas.

A three-day Future Search Conference was held off-campus from Dec. 16 - 18. It was the first experience at Concordia with a process that has been used widely.

The goal in this case was to develop “a shared vision and understanding of the value and rightful place of Recreation and Athletics in the life of Concordia University and its role in the wider community, and a commitment to foster relationships that will contribute, implement and sustain this shared vision.”

It was also tied to the search for a new director for the department and planning for much-needed recreation and athletics facilities on both campuses.

Participants included alumni, faculty, outside support, staff, students, athletes and recreation and athletics staff. Vice-Rector Services Michael Di Grappa was an active participant.

Conference management team member David Gobby said, “The idea was to get them to interact and learn from each other and to develop a common vision of where Recreation and Athletics should be going. I think we accomplished that, and also had a lot of fun doing so.”

Over the three days, participants worked in groups, in pairs, as a large group and individually, under the leadership of conference facilitators Ray Gordezky and Kim Martens.

The group work began by looking back, looking at the present and predicting trends around the world, in Montreal and specifically at the Concordia, in terms of recreation and sport. Groups disbanded and re-formed, sometimes according to their role at the university and sometimes by mere chance. The goal was to get everyone involved and thinking.

Among the highlights were skits developed by eight work groups to present their vision of the future. These ranged from interviews with excited Concordia spectators at the 2012 Vanier Cup game held at Concordia’s new retractable-roof stadium to a tour of the new “Di Grappa Dome Complex, ” with varsity and alumni dormitories and and wellness centres.

Faculty members agreed that existing units like exercise science, psychology, education and marketing could share their expertise in many ways. New programs to help athletes in academic difficulty, performance coaching, student apprenticeships and physical therapy were some of the concepts developed in these sessions.

Similar initiatives in fundraising, marketing, communications and alumni support were raised. Representatives from neighbouring community groups and the YMCA suggested providing services and programs for neighbouring families, children and the elderly.

There was strong commitment to the dual mandate of the department: providing services to both the mass of students, faculty and staff and the varsity and elite athletes.

There was general agreement that facilities on both campuses should complement each other to meet the full spectrum of the University’s recreation and athletic needs. Flexibility, accessibility, affordability, and energy efficiency were all mentioned, as well as the need for facilities that are client-driven — in particular, student-driven.

Several work groups were formed at the end of the conference. They will meet this month to develop specific projects such as academic liaison, fundraising, marketing and communications and leadership, and will coordinate with the Vice-Rector Services.

More information about the Future Search conference and a day-by-day chronicle is available on the Web at: http://web2.concordia.ca/-futuresearch.