Representatives from Indiana University's Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies attended the 3rd Annual Meeting of the National Park Service Academic Leadership Consortium on June 17 and 18, 2010 in Acadia National Park. Dr. David M. Compton, RPTS Department Chair, and Stephen A. Wolter, Executive Director of the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, represent Indiana University on the consortium of 6 prestigious universities from around the nation, including George Washington University, the University of Vermont, Clemson University, Colorado State University, the University of California, Merced, and Indiana University. These universities were chosen by the National Park Service due to their reputations for leadership and parks, heritage, and public lands management expertise.
The Academic Consortium's overall goal to improve the leadership in the National Park Service is focused on rolling out a graduate Leadership for Parks and Cultural Heritage Areas Certificate starting in Spring 2011. Indiana University's Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies will kick off the 18-month program, teaching with the University of Vermont.
Compton, who sits on the Consortium's administrative steering committee, indicated that "Indiana University's leadership on the Consortium is evident, and the Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies Department's capabilities to provide high-quality education to the future leaders of parks and protected areas from around the nation is a unique opportunity and a mark of the quality of our academic programs in our profession."
Wolter chairs the curriculum committee of the consortium and spent the two days of the Annual Meeting working with representatives from the other 5 universities in coordinating the 18 credits of coursework that certificate students will take.
"The Consortium certificate is still a contract certificate requested by the National Park Service but, as time progresses, the Academic Consortium hopes to develop a jointly awarded Master's degree in the field open to all park, recreation, heritage, [and] conservation area managers. This first effort will allow the university partners to begin collaborations and work through the beginnings of the effort," said Wolter. Wolter, who heads up the Department's highly regarded Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands, has lead the Institute's and Department's outreach and distributed training and education program for 10 years. Dave Compton, Chair of the Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies Department, added that he is "optimistic that the requirements of Indiana University and the other Academic Leadership Consortium [members] will be able to work through the many administrative issues, sign required agreements, and offer the joint Master's degree in the next year and a half," but he acknowledges that "faculty and campus approvals, as well as likely higher-level administration approvals, are all significant hurdles."