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The Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism

Welcome to the Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism

Enhancing life, improving health, & building connections

The Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism has been officially leading the nation in the management of recreation & leisure since 1984 but our roots run way deeper. We offer courses and degree options for undergraduate and graduate students that prepare them for careers in research, conservation, sports, parks, and wilderness management, tourism, and hospitality. Our graduates effect change from local recreation to the our Nation's national parks. Indeed, 5 of the Nation's most world-renowned National Parks are the backdrop of our classrooms. The connections our students and faculty form to each other, the land, and their profession elevate our program to change the world.

Professor Kirk Nichols Recognized as the Distinguished Teacher and Mentor by the University of Utah

The Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism is Proud to Announce

Celebrating Greatness

Congratulation Prof. Kirk Nichols! 

Kirk Nichols, PhM received the 2023 Distinguished University Teaching Award at the University of Utah. Prof. Nichols is an associate professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism since 1975. Prof. Nichols is an incredibly talented educator, and we are very proud of him. Next to Kirk Nichols is his wife Lucy, who accompanied him at the faculty awards dinner.

As a recipient of this award, Prof. Nichols will be honored at the University's General Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 4, 2023. 

PRT's Kirk Nichols Receives University's Distinguished Teaching Award 

Kirk Nichols Accepting Distinguished Teaching Award

Experience the great outdoors with U-EXPLORE

Classes are open to any U student. Intensive, short duration, 2-credit experiential learning classes with over 90 different sections of classes each year, delivered by professional and experienced instructor teams. If your tired of being stuck in the classroom, answer the call of adventure, see what makes Utah unlike anywhere else, and get credit while you do it..

Tourism in Southern Utah's red rock country


Why Utah?

Located on the northeastern edge of Salt Lake City, our 1,500-acre campus reaches to the foothills of the majestic Wasatch Mountains. Over 25,000 students represent all 50 states and many foreign countries. More than 2,000 clinical, adjunct, research, and visiting faculty serve the student body.

Utah is the West at its best: four distinct seasons, ready access to all outdoor activities including superb skiing at eight world-famous resorts just minutes from campus. Utah is home to five national parks and countless national, regional, state, and local recreation areas. Salt Lake City, with a metropolitan population of 650,000, is the hub of the Intermountain West.  

Autumn forests near the U

Message from the Chair

"There was a time when 'I’d rather be….' bumper stickers were incredibly popular. With the exception of some sarcastic iterations, the stickers reflected some recreational activity that the person would rather be doing; …fishing, skiing, sailing, kayaking, reading, traveling, watching football…you get the idea. The implication of the stickers was that people were happiest when they were doing what they loved to do, and that was usually something recreation focused. In my time studying and teaching the social psychology of recreation behavior and its subsequent health outcomes, I’ve come to deeply understand that people work so that they can engage in their favorite activities. Our recreation is a better reflection of our true identities than anything else, and we have higher quality of life and are generally happier when we make time for recreation..."

Dart Schmalz, PhD
Associate Professor and Dept. Chair

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Chair Dart Schmalz

Backed by the best

Our undergraduate program is accredited through the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, Tourism, and Related Professions (COAPRT). COAPRT is, in turn, accredited by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Council on Accrediation COA


You may have questions along the way.
We're here to help.

These are difficult times and we know you've got difficult questions,
but we're here to help you every step of the way.

Eric Gardner


Eric Gardner, MS



Jim Sibthorp

Director of Graduate Studies

Jim Sibthorp, Ph.D.



Our Vision

We envision a global community that values and celebrates parks, recreation, and tourism. To that end, we contribute to individual, community, and environmental health through education, research, and action informed by the preventive, developmental, and restorative properties of parks, recreation, and tourism.

Our Mission

We create, share, and apply knowledge about parks, recreation, and tourism to inspire students, inform policy, serve social needs, promote sustainability, and advocate for the health of people, communities, and the environment.

Our Values

  • Student centeredness
  • Student involvement
  • Community connections
  • Informed and engaged citizenship
  • Excellence in and integration of scholarship, teaching, and service
  • Outdoor, experiential, and traditional instruction
  • Speculative as well as applied knowledge
  • Ecological literacy
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Career development and professional advancement of our graduates
  • Independent and lifelong learning

Department Chair

Dorothy L. Schmalz, Ph.D.

Chair of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism

Phone: 801-585-6503

PRT Main Office

250 South 1850 East

HPER-North Suite 239

Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Phone: 801-581-8542

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