Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism – Illinois Advancement
Student sitting and smiling as she converses with another person across the table.

2023 Update

Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism

Celebrating the impact of your generosity

On behalf of the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism, I would like to express my deepest gratitude for your generous support of our faculty, staff and students.

Your gifts help us to support RST scholars as they pursue collaborative, interdisciplinary research into recreation, sport and tourism issues. They work with colleagues and students to explore the role of leisure in promoting and maintaining health. They reach out to communities to examine how parks and other green spaces enhance health and well-being for marginalized groups, urban neighborhoods, and rural populations. They examine the intersection of sport and development to determine how sport programs for youth and adults can be used to grow healthy and livable communities.

I hope you take pride in playing an important role in research that makes a difference and changes lives. Our success relies on your ongoing commitment to us. We are humbled by that commitment and profoundly appreciative of your support. Thank you!

William P. Stewart, Ph.D.
Signature William P. Stewart, Ph.D.
Interim Department Head, Recreation, Sport & Tourism

2023 By the Numbers

Thanks to your support during this past fiscal year, the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism continues to be transformed, resulting in:

Icon$404,890 Dollars Raised

Icon43 Donors

Icon62 Gifts

Icon384 Student Enrollment

Icon111 Degrees granted in 2022-23 academic year

2023 Highlights

Your support has helped us continue to elevate the values that make Illinois distinctive: a sense of boundless aspiration, collaboration, and a global perspective.

Robin Hall sitting in his office smiling.

Robin Hall: A Lifetime of Giving

When Robin Hall first met Charles Brightbill and Allen Sapora, he was inspired by their holistic vision of parks and recreation, and he knew that a major in Recreation, Sport and Tourism was the right fit for his future. Improving the life and health of a society through an active and community-driven parks department was the focus of Hall’s 35+ year career as Director of the Urbana Park District. Throughout his work, he incorporated arts and inclusivity into his approach, and was adept at leveraging networks to support development. Upon his retirement from the Urbana Parks District, he was swiftly recruited to serve as the Director of the Office of Recreation and Park Resources (ORPR). Bill Stewart, Interim Department Head, commented “Under Robin’s leadership at ORPR, we became known for our research efforts at “building healthy communities” – the slogan developed for ORPR during his leadership tenure.” Now retired (for a second time), Hall continues to serve as a force for the department. Beyond his own generous gifts, he continues to employ similar ideas that made him a successful parks director, such as building networks to inspire giving. Discussing the impact of RST on his life, he said, “This department changed my life.” Thank you, Robin, for the immense impact you’ve had on the department!

Aniyha Jones

Coming Full Circle – Paragon Marketing Group Represents Opportunity

The Paragon Marketing Group Scholarship was presented to three outstanding recipients in the past year. The scholarship recognizes students who consistently demonstrate strong leadership abilities and an upstanding character. One recipient, Aniyha Jones, said, “This award truly means a lot to me and it’s a full-circle moment. During my freshman year at Illinois, Paragon was the first company to believe in me and provide me with an internship. There are so many students who attend Illinois, so to be chosen out of a very selective process, I’m honored!” Aniyha’s future goals include writing and producing sports documentaries that tell powerful stories never told before. During her time at Illinois, Aniyha started a podcast, and served as the host of Illini Sports Night—a student-led sports broadcast where she interviews prominent athletes on campus. Learn more about how scholarships impacted RST students.

Monika Stodolska smiling and standing with colleagues after receiving award.

Monika Stodolska named Brightbill/Sapora Professor in Recreation

Dr. Stodolska’s recent research examines the experiences of refugees who fled to Poland after being displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Through interviews with refugees, hosts and volunteers, Stodolska is investigating how the refugees adapt to their new lives, the role of leisure in helping them deal with war-related trauma and the Polish population’s response to the crisis. “At the end of our careers, we won’t be remembered by the number of papers or the books that we’ve written, but by the impact we’ve had on people and whether we’ve used this privilege of professorship to leave the world a slightly better place,” she said. Learn more about Dr. Stodolska and her research.

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Philanthropy has benefited students, faculty, and staff in many ways. Browse the list below to learn more about how your impact can be felt across campus.

© 2023 University of Illinois Board of Trustees