SRU department changes name to Parks, Conservation and Recreational Therapy


Paws and Relax therapy dog with students

Slippery Rock University’s Parks and Recreation Department is now called the Parks, Conservation and Recreational Therapy Department. The new name better reflects the course offerings and the careers of students who graduate from the department’s programs.

June 26, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Born from the evolution of curriculum and career offerings, the Parks and Recreation Department at Slippery Rock University has a new name. Effective immediately, the department is called the Parks, Conservation and Recreational Therapy Department. The names of the majors and courses have not changed and department leadership will continue to evaluate the academic programs as the discipline evolves.

Deb Hutchins


"This name change was an effort to better communicate to the public, potential students, current students and all our stakeholders what it is we really do and where our program has evolved," said Deborah Hutchins, assistant professor and chair of the Parks, Conservation and Recreational Therapy Department. "The department name has changed but all the academic applications will come later as we continue to evolve.

"The change is all related to where the field is going," Hutchins said. "Professionals in the field are in the business of connecting to the environment and understanding the resources and conserving the resources more so than planning recreational activities or specializing in 'community' recreation."

By reflecting the course offerings and intended careers for students, the new name better represents the fields of conservation education and environmental communication as well as natural and cultural resource management, Hutchins said. The department has helped place students in jobs in the national and state parks systems as well as conservation-related non-profit organizations, county and city parks, zoos, aquaria and nature centers.

The new name also puts special emphasis on the recreational therapy program, which prepares students to enter into health care and human services fields to work with children, adolescents and adults with physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities in a variety of settings and specialty areas.

The name change was the result of faculty discussions at a retreat during the 2017 spring semester, with subsequent approval from the dean of the College of Health, Environment and Science and the Provost's Office. However, further academic changes must be approved by a curriculum committee.

Current majors in the department include students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Park and Resource Management; a Master of Science in Park and Resource Management; a Master of Education in Environmental Education; a Bachelor of Science in Recreational Therapy; and recreational therapy entry requirements for the Doctor of Physical Therapy. The department also offers an interdisciplinary minor in animal assisted interventions.

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