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Providing students with a more focused education is the goal of the Recreation and Tourism Studies program (RTS) in the Department of Exercise Science, Physical Education and Recreation.

The program, which has been a part of the Darden College of Education for years under the name Recreation and Leisure Studies, has been revamped and streamlined to better meet students' needs and those of their potential employers.

The new-look bachelor's program will be introduced next fall, and a master's program will be added as well. Changes to the bachelor's program have included eliminating military and outdoor recreation as focus areas and instead incorporating them in other classes.

The new RTS program will feature a bachelor of science degree in recreation and tourism studies, as well as minors in RTS, and a master of science degree in physical education with an emphasis in tourism management, said Edwin Gomez, assistant professor of ESPER.

The minors, Gomez said, focus on management in the travel/tourism and private/commercial recreation service industries and will be of interest to students seeking careers in a variety of commercial recreation settings, the tourism industry, and community or public recreation. A minor in RTS would benefit business, education, natural sciences, criminal justice and social science majors, he noted.

"As a result of the changes we have made to the program, we will provide better quality because the courses offered reflect both faculty strengths and current trends in undergraduate requirements from our accrediting organization," Gomez said.

Possible employment areas for graduates with RTS degrees include hotels, resorts, theme parks, cruise lines, spas and health clubs, convention and visitor bureaus, travel agencies, YMCA agencies and municipal recreation departments.

The revamped program, as it has in the past, also will feature interesting internship possibilities. Two students are currently working in Military Welfare and Recreation at Dam Neck in Virginia Beach and in Rota, Spain. Last summer, one intern worked for the Student Conservation Association in Alaska.

Gomez hopes to recruit more undecided majors into the program in the near future. Coupled with a business, social or health sciences minor and an internship experience, the program's graduates will be "very marketable," he said.

Currently, Gomez noted, "We are mostly a 'discovery' major. Most people 'discover' that we are here."

This semester, 120 students are majoring in the recreation and leisure studies bachelor's program.

Gomez, who has been at Old Dominion since fall 2000, will teach the majority of the new courses in the tourism emphasis. His areas of interest include the social and psychological aspects of tourism, recreation relating to research and ethnic groups, and urban studies issues dealing with parks and a sense of community.

Other faculty in the program include Ladd Colston, whose areas of expertise are in management, finance and administration of recreation and leisure services, therapeutic recreation and, more recently, international dimensions of tourism; and Betsy Kennedy, who specializes in therapeutic recreation techniques and theory, recreation for special populations including the elderly and disabled, personnel administration, and professional preparation and certification for the field.

This article was posted on: March 15, 2002

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