Recreation Management Majors Enjoy Thriving Job Market

Versatile UM major attracts variety of student, provides array of options for graduates

OXFORD, Miss. – For park and recreation management majors at the University of Mississippi, the post-graduation job market is thrilling, but not scary. Most of them, you see, already have solid job prospects.

One of those students is Diandra DeVoe-Hazelett, a senior from Orlando, Fla., who began figure skating when she was 6. Figuring out how to turn her lifelong love into a career was simple, once she realized the University of Mississippi offers a degree in park and recreation management.

The park and recreation management program offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in park and recreation management. The undergraduate program, one of 80 nationally accredited ones since 2000, prepares students to become certified park and recreation professionals and/or certified therapeutic recreation specialists. Park and recreation degrees offered at Ole Miss combine traditional classroom education with experiential and interdisciplinary approaches, which prepare students to become leisure and recreation professionals in a variety of recreation, leisure, tourism and sport settings.Read the story …

Pechenik Receives Paragon Award for Excellence in Online Instruction

Instructor finds that distance learning opens new possibilities for students

Anna Pechenik Mausolf

Anna Pechenik

OXFORD, Miss. – Anna Pechenik, an instructor in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, has received the 2012 Paragon for Excellence in Distance Learning Education.


The annual award recognizes an outstanding faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in instruction and service to Ole Miss students through the use of innovative technologies. Nominations are made by deans, department heads, students and former award winners. Any faculty member who taught a distance learning course during the previous academic year is eligible to be nominated. The Paragon carries a $1,000 monetary award.

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Recreational Therapist Uses Wheelchairs to Help Para-Athletes, Veterans with PTSD

Research combines academic excellence for students with service and hospitality to physically, emotionally impaired

OXFORD, Miss. – Whether it’s assisting veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder or physically-impaired persons seeking to improve their quality of life, Jasmine Townsend works wonders with adaptive sports and wheelchairs. An assistant professor in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, Townsend is strengthening the existing recreational therapy major. The university is purchasing a fleet of 12 custom-built, athletic wheelchairs that Townsend plans to use for classroom instruction, research and future events to raise awareness of para-athletics. “Recreational therapy is a field I’ve worked in for almost 15 years,” said Townsend, a certified therapeutic recreation specialist whose research interests includes influences of family recreation on family functioning, satisfaction and communication, and post-traumatic growth and reduction of post-traumatic stress disorder for veterans through recreation. “Basically, it involves the use of recreational activity to change people’s lives.” While new to the university, Townsend taught RT classes at both Indiana and Brigham Young universities. Adaptive sports include wheelchair basketball, football, tennis and even quad-rugby, also known as “murderball.” “People in wheelchairs are not as fragile as some might assume,” Townsend said. “In murderball, it’s not only OK to bash wheelchairs into each other, it’s also a lot of fun.” Townsend teaches a combined total of 12 students in her “Supervision and Administration in Therapeutic Recreation” and “Assessment and Evaluation in Parks and Recreation Management” courses. Her husband, Jeffrey, is a frequent guest lecturer in her classes. Born with spinabifida (a congenital break in the spine with a hernia protrusion), he has played wheelchair basketball both recreationally and professionally. “The take-away message that I hope students get when I guest lecture in Jasmine’s class is that individuals with a disability need and want the same recreational activities and competitive opportunities as other individuals who may not have a disability,” said Jeffrey Townsend, who also works in UM Athletics with academic support. “We are very excited about the opportunity to bring 12 new sport wheelchairs to the University of Mississippi campus and the HESRM department so that students, faculty and staff can have an opportunity to experience some Paralympic wheelchair sports in a practical, hands-on manner.” In her work with veterans, Jasmine Townsend has found that while the number of veterans returning home as amputees is relatively low, the number who suffer from PTSD is exponentially higher. Working as a research consultant with the Sun Valley Adaptive Sports Center in Idaho, she conducts outcome research on the Higher Ground program, which offers four-day recreation retreats for veterans with PTSD and their significant others. “During the week, these veterans participate in such activities as water skiing, fly fishing, snow skiing and paragliding, after which they are monitored for three years,” Townsend said. “Many of the veterans in our study report using less medication, a higher quality of life and more enjoyment of their families after learning how to use adaptive recreation in their daily lives.” Ultimately, Townsend will lead the therapeutic recreation program toward preparing professionals to enter a promising job market, said Kim Beason, professor and coordinator of park and recreation management. “Over the past months, therapeutic recreation has been featured on the ‘Today’ show as a top 10 college major for lucrative careers, on CNN Money as a best job for saving the world and on as one of the 10 best-paying jobs with a bachelor’s degree,” Beason said. “TR is an excellent complement or alternative for students wishing to work with people in physical or occupational therapy.” The Townsends hope to raise both public awareness of therapeutic recreation and adaptive athletics through special events wherein she and her students would use the sports wheelchairs in demonstrations and activities. The couple also anticipates the time when the Paralympic Games, which always occur two weeks after the Olympic Games, will receive the same level of international attention the former event and its athletes generates. “Obviously my passion and heart is in wheelchair basketball and oftentimes I don’t think the general public realizes that Paralympic sports are played at a very high level, with the same time commitment and dedication given to their chosen sport as their Olympic athlete counterpart,” Jeffrey Townsend said. “Recreational therapy’s not just a job to me – it’s part of everyday life,” Jasmine Townsend said. “I’ve never seen anybody play wheelchair sports and not have a good time. If these activities help introduce people to RT and draw more students into the major, that’s even better.” Townsend holds a doctorate from Indiana University, a master’s degree from Brigham Young University and a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University. Before joining the UM faculty, she worked at both IU and BYU as well as at the National Ability Center in Utah. Townsend’s professional memberships include the Mississippi Recreation and Park Association, Recreation Therapists of Indiana, National Recreation and Park Association and American Therapeutic Recreation Association. She is also a prolific co-author with more than 30 refereed and non-refereed articles either published, printed or in progress. Townsend also has seven grants and external funding totaling $10,000. For more information about the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, visit or call 662-915-5521.

UM Researchers Create Device to Help Stutterers

Interdisciplinary team developing prosthetic as part of a complete treatment program

University of Mississippi professors Greg Snyder (left), Paul Goggans and Dwight Waddell conduct tests on a prototype of the prosthetic device they created to help people who stutter speak more fluently. UM photo by Kevin Bain.

OXFORD, Miss. – Drawing on one another’s expertise, a trio of University of Mississippi faculty members from different areas of campus has created a patent-pending device that could change the lives of people who stutter. Paul Goggans, an electrical engineering professor, developed the prosthetic device, about the size of a cell phone, with Greg Snyder, associate professor of communications sciences and disorders, and Dwight Waddell, associate professor of health, exercise science and recreation management. The friends began working on the device after Snyder, himself a lifelong stutterer, demonstrated how he could speak much more fluently simply by feeling his throat while he and Waddell chatted over coffee. “By feeling my throat vibrate when I speak, I get tactile speech feedback, which significantly reduces my stuttering,” Snyder said. “Dwight immediately understood my application of speech feedback and neural circuitry, and he then approached Paul, who agreed to make the device development a senior-level design project in his class.” Since that time, the team has been focused on supporting and empowering the stuttering community by fighting social stigma and challenging the normal remedies associated with stuttering.

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UM Park and Recreation Management Instructor Receives National Graduate Student Award

Anna Pechenik Mausolf (left), then a graduate student in the University of Mississippi Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, helped organize a trip for fellow students to attend the annual convention of the National Recreation and Park Association last fall in Atlanta. She recently was named the 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student by the NRPA Young Professionals Network.

Anna Pechenik Mausolf (left), then a graduate student in the University of Mississippi Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, helped organize a trip for fellow students to attend the annual convention of the National Recreation and Park Association last fall in Atlanta. She recently was named the 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student by the NRPA Young Professionals Network.

OXFORD, Miss. – Anna Pechenik Mausolf, an adjunct instructor of park and recreation management at the University of Mississippi, has been named the 2012 Outstanding Graduate Student by the Young Professionals Network of the National Recreation and Park Association. NRPA will present the award publicly at an Oct. 17 reception during the association’s 2012 Congress & Exposition in Anaheim, Calif. Pechenik said she was both shocked and humbled by the news, even though she has been consistently working toward the association’s goals during her tenure at Ole Miss. Last year, she oversaw the development of a comprehensive citizen survey to help the city of Hernando’s Parks and Recreation Department understand its constituency.

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Three Student-Athletes Receive Highest Academic Honor At Ole Miss

OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss softball players Corrine Doornberg and Amanda Hutcheson and women’s tennis player Gabby Rangel were among 64 students honored with a Taylor Medal at the annual Honors Convocation Thursday night at the Ford Center for Performing Arts. The Taylor Medal is the highest academic honor a student can receive at the University of Mississippi. Rangel received a Taylor Medal in the College of Liberal Arts, Doornberg received hers from the School of Engineering and Hutcheson earned hers from the School of Applied Sciences. “To have three student-athletes among 64 at the University receive the highest academic award on campus, shows the commitment by our student-athletes to the student side of their careers,” said Executive Associate Athletics Director Lynnette Johnson. These women have been excellent on and off the field/court and obviously set the tone for their individual teams with their high level of academic accomplishments.” The Taylor Medal recognizes outstanding academic performance and is given to no more than one percent of the student body. To be considered, a student must have a grade-point average of at least a 3.90. Rangel, of Hendersonville, Tenn., boasts a 3.94 GPA in international studies-economics. She has helped lead the Rebels to a No. 16 national ranking and a top-four finish in the SEC. A three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete, Rangel was a recent finalist for the SEC Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Postgraduate Scholarship. Doornberg, a native of Langley, British Columbia, owns a 3.93 GPA in civil engineering and is a member of the Honors College. She is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Doornberg, who earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors in 2009, is currently batting .336 for the Rebels, who host Mississippi State in a three-game series this weekend. Hutcheson, who hails from Loganville, Ga., holds a 3.94 GPA in exercise science. She was named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete, is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and was a recent finalist for the SEC Brad Davis Community Service Postgraduate Scholarship. Former three-year track and field member, Ellen Karp, also earned a Taylor Medal from the School of Business Administration. The Taylor Memorial was founded by William A. Taylor in June 1904. He founded the award in memory of his son, Marcus Elvis Taylor, an honored alumnus of the class of 1871, and out of benevolent regard and good will for the youth of the state and the interest and the work of the University of Mississippi, and for the encouragement of meritorious scholarship deportment. The Taylor Memorial, as well as the other awards presented to the students, is chosen by a committee of faculty and staff members.

UM Helps Hernando Survey Parks and Recreation Needs

OXFORD, Miss. – It started as a simple question from a concerned public worker. “How can the city of Hernando best provide services to its citizens?” The rapidly growing north Mississippi city needed answers quickly and got an immediate response in the form of a comprehensive citizen survey provided free by the University of Mississippi’s Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management. Anna Pechenik, who oversaw the survey, said she jumped at the opportunity to help Hernando Parks and Recreation understand its constituency.

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Researchers Aim to Use Brainwaves and Computers to Treat Brain-Based Disorders

OXFORD, Miss. – Imagine that stroke victims could use a small electronic device, controlled by their own brainwaves, to regain the ability to speak or walk. Or that epilepsy patients could use a similar device to control or even prevent seizures.


UM researchers Dwight Waddell (left), Pamela Lawhead, Scott Gustafson and Yixin Chen are searching for ways to use brainwaves to control computers and robots in hopes of finding new treatments for people with brain-based disorders. UM photo by Nathan Latil.

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Jeans for Justice Day, Clothesline Project Highlight Sexual Assault Awareness Month


OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is observing 2010 Sexual Assault Awareness Month with several activities designed to raise public understanding about the problem of sexual violence and to educate participants on how to prevent sexual assault and rape.

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Professor to Promote Healthy Lifestyle in Amsterdam


OXFORD, Miss. – Ten percent of the Dutch are obese, and experts predict that rate will increase to a quarter of the population by 2025.

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