Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration

Department History

In 1966, Dr. Tony Mobley advocated the development of a recreation program at Western Illinois University. He wrote, “The purpose of this program is to prepare professional recreation leaders and executives who, upon graduation from Western, can assume major leadership responsibilities for recreation in Illinois and throughout the nation.” On May 7, 1968, the Western Illinois University Board of Governors gave final approval to create the Department of Recreation and Park Administration. Shortly thereafter, the department began using Horn Field Campus as an extended classroom. In 1978, the department 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. In July of 2018, the Hospitality Management program merged with the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration. One of the primary reasons the program merged with RPTA was to integrate all leisure service industries into one department. What has been constant throughout the department’s history is its mission: to provide dynamic, highly effective learning opportunities for personal and career development; to encourage and facilitate scholarly and creative activity; to enhance the quality of life throughout the State and beyond; and, to serve the leisure services profession, including those organizations involved in program and service delivery.

Western Illinois University's Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration Department is accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT). The Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT) accredits baccalaureate programs in parks, recreation, tourism, sport management, event management, therapeutic recreation, and leisure studies offered at regionally accredited institutions within the United States and its territories, and at nationally accredited institutions in Canada, and Mexico. The RPTA Department has maintained continuous accreditation for Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration program since October 13, 1978.

Our Mission

  • To provide dynamic, highly effective learning opportunities for personal and career development.
  • To encourage and facilitate scholarly and creative activity.
  • To enhance the quality of life throughout the State and beyond.
  • To serve the leisure services profession, including those organizations involved in program and service delivery.

Our Values

Through all efforts, RPTA will align with and support the values of Western Illinois University.

  • Academic Excellence: Central to our history is the commitment to teaching, to the individual learner, and to active involvement in the teaching-learning process. Western Illinois University’s highly qualified and diverse faculty promotes critical thinking, engaged learning, research, and creativity in a challenging, supportive learning community. We are committed to student success in an academic environment that encourages lifelong development as learners, scholars, teachers, and mentors.
  • Educational Opportunity: Western Illinois University values educational opportunity and welcomes those who show promise and a willingness to work toward achieving academic excellence. We are committed to providing accessible, high-quality educational programs and financial support for our students.
  • Personal Growth: Western Illinois University values the development of the whole person. We are committed to providing opportunities for personal growth in a transformative educational environment that supports the development of wellness, ethical decision making, and personal responsibility in the global community.
  • Social Responsibility: Western Illinois University is committed to civic and community engagement, equity, social justice, and diversity and will maintain the highest standards of integrity in our work with others. We create an environment that fosters and promotes citizenship. We serve as a resource for and stimulus to educational, cultural, environmental, community, and economic development in our region and well beyond it for the public good.

Our Vision

Leisure has gained recognition as an increasingly important aspect of life. Scientific and technological advances, demographic trends, and socio-cultural, political, and economic factors have brought about rapid, almost revolutionary changes in the patterns of its distribution. Along with these changes, there has been a growing awareness of the potential leisure holds for contributing to peace and civility as well as enhancing the quality of life. All of these developments have influenced the philosophy, purposes, and vision of the Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration Department.

The vision of the Department of RPTA is in accordance with those of Western Illinois University and the leisure industries. Specifically, the areas of commitment identified by Western Illinois University and the College of Education and Human Services are teaching and learning, research, and service. The following discussion specifies the vision of the Department of RPTA relative to the College of Education and Human Services’ three areas of commitment.

Teaching: The undergraduate program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration is designed to provide a basic foundation for entry to any of the various aspects of the leisure industries. In addition to a required curriculum core taken by all majors, provision is made for an option and minor to enable individualization of programs of study according to each student’s educational goals and career aspirations.

Research: Research is an area of commitment in the College of Education and Human Services and its various academic departments. Research that enhances the teaching and/or service functions of the university is strongly encouraged. Basic and applied research that contributes to the body of professional knowledge and provides insight to help solve problems faced by practitioners is of utmost importance to the Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration faculty. Development and refinement of competencies that will enable faculty to carry out research and scholarly activities is a goal of the Department of RPTA.

Service: The Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration maintains a strong commitment to professional service. Consistent withWestern Illinois University’s overall concept of, and commitment to, regional and extended professional service, faculty members are encouraged to share their expertise by providing service through recognized channels to appropriate audiences. Recreation and park agencies and enterprises benefit from consultation provided by faculty members. On many occasions, students are involved in service-oriented activities that offer them experience in preparation for their future profession. Faculty members are encouraged to explore research questions and opportunities that are of special value to the citizens of Illinois. The RPTA faculty is encouraged to respond to the leadership needs of its professional organizations at the state, regional, and national levels.

Additional Resources