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Message from the Chair

Parks, Recreation, & Tourism

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

Dart Schmalz, PhD, Associate Professor and Dept. Chair

In the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, we learn about and study the field from a variety of angles. Students can choose from three different emphasis areas, including:

  1. Outdoor recreation studies
  2. Commercial, community, and sport management
  3. Sustainable tourism and hospitality management

In these emphases, our world-renowned faculty bring their unique expertise to the classroom, and to one of a kind experiential approaches. Students will learn from our partners across the State and engage in hands-on learning to prepare them for management and leadership positions in their area of interest.

And what better place to study recreation, parks, and tourism than the University of Utah? Home to 5 national parks, 46 state parks, nearly 23 million acres of public lands, Utah boasts unprecedented opportunities for outdoor recreation. According to the Division of Outdoor Recreation, Utah’s outdoor recreation industry contributed $8.1 billion to the state economy in 2022, an increase of $2 billion from the year before. In addition, the industry created 71,000 new jobs in 2022, ranging from ski lift operator, to outdoor product retail, to recreation guiding. Utah is also a great place for sports and tourism. With professional sports teams already established and some rumored to move in, not to mention that Salt Lake is the proposed host city for the 2034 Olympics, our Department is the place to be when it comes to parks, recreation, and tourism education.

Many people don’t realize that they can make a career out of what they love to do. So, I ask you, what would your bumper sticker say, and why not make it a career?