After losses in enrollment, UMN scraps outdoor recreation major and minor

The School of Kinesiology will discontinue its Recreation Administration B.S. and Outdoor Recreation and Education minor after this spring semester.

by Parker Toyne

Following declining enrollment, the University of Minnesota is scrapping a major and minor relating to outdoor recreation. 

After the last students were admitted into the Recreation Administration B.S. and Outdoor Recreation and Education minor last spring, this semester will be the last time the University offers the programs. Recent graduates said the programs’ discontinuation will have a negative impact on students who want to enter the field of outdoor recreation. The School of Kinesiology announced in December 2018 that it would discontinue the major and minor. 

Throughout the process of discontinuation, advisers have been working closely to ensure current students meet their graduation requirements, said School of Kinesiology Director Beth Lewis.

The Recreation Administration B.S. currently has 22 enrolled students, while the Outdoor Recreation and Education minor has 13 students enrolled, a decline from previous semesters. Lewis said most students are not aware of the major until they have already enrolled at the University, which limits some students who may have been interested in the program. 

Lewis said the program has been disproportionately losing revenue in comparison to other majors and minors within the school.  Discontinuing the major and minor will be an opportunity to allocate resources to growing majors in the School of Kinesiology she said. 

“It is a cost-savings to the school, in terms of having to fund the lectures and adjunct professors … when resources are tight, it allows us to put the resources to the growing majors that we have and any other high-demand undergraduate program,” Lewis said. 

Though the college will ensure current students can graduate from the program, University Outdoors Club member Jake Marble said its discontinuation deterred him from pursuing the minor. 

“I’ve actually personally been impacted,” Marble said. “I enrolled in the minor in the fall of 2018 but realized upon the announcement of the discontinuation that, given my other academic commitments, there would be no way for me to feasibly complete it.” 

Some students who graduated from the program said they believe a lack of resources and attention from the school fueled the decision to discontinue the major and minor. 

“It seemed to me that the University wasn’t channeling much money into this program … This resulted in a lower quality of some of the professors which, maybe, resulted in fewer people going into the program,” said Matt Przeslicke, who graduated in 2019 with his B.S in Recreation Administration and a minor in Outdoor Education. 

Brett Rannow, another graduate of the major program and chairman of the Minnesota Rec and Parks Association’s Young Professional Student Network, said the discontinuation will have a direct impact on the association’s ability to recruit students from within the Twin Cities.

Despite competing programs around the state, Rannow said the University’s decision to completely discontinue the program will inhibit future students’ ability to pursue careers in outdoor recreation.

“I really do love this field. I love all things recreation. I want others to find that too … From what I’ve gathered, the U of M’s program has been in decline for a while now. It’s unfortunate that it’s letting it die rather than putting some life back into it and revitalize it,” Rannow said.