Explore the outdoors and get to know new Director of Campus Recreation and Outdoor Programs Lizzy Gardner

New Director of Campus Recreation and Outdoor Programs Lizzy Gardner is ready to dig her hands in at Lees-McRae.

A recent graduate from Western Kentucky University, Gardner has melded her professional passions with her personal pursuits: the outdoors.

An avid animal lover, hiker, backpacker, and runner, Gardner loves getting students, faculty, and staff involved in one of many outdoor opportunities the college hosts.

Gardner said that being part of a college campus has always been something she has loved, and “to be part of a smaller community gives me even more opportunity to use recreation and the outdoors as a tool for student engagement, healthy living, and social development.”

Get to know Gardner some more in our most recent staff Q&A: (responses have been edited for clarity and brevity).


What are some new projects and initiatives you hope to bring to campus in the coming months?

As the new director, I hope to bring some consistency to the programming we provide to our students, faculty, and staff. I want to offer a well-rounded variety of events and programs for students to get involved in on campus that we can maintain throughout the year. One of my main projects throughout the first semester is simply to increase student awareness and traffic at the Student Recreation Complex (SRC). The more students that know we’re here, the more likely we’re able to put on successful programs that they will want to attend. We’ve got a lot of space and equipment at our disposal, and we want the college community to take advantage of it! For me, that means implementing consistency and accessibility in our building operation hours, open gym time, open climbing hours, etc.

Why is it important to offer campus recreation and outdoor programming opportunities at Lees-McRae?

Any chance to provide a place where students and other members of the college community can feel a sense of belonging and engagement is a win. This type of programming also gives people an easily accessible avenue to make health and wellness part of their lifestyle, which may not always be the case outside of a college setting. Also for those students who are looking to turn recreation, wellness, or outdoors into a career, this is a great place to get experience and learn some new skills.

What is it about Lees-McRae that makes it optimal for programming like this?

The opportunities for outdoor programming alone in this area are boundless, which is wonderful because we have a huge pool of resources to utilize when it comes to programming. When I look at recreation and wellness at Lees-McRae, I’m excited because we have the chance to build programs around the needs and wants of our campus community. 

If you could talk directly to all students here on campus, what would you say?

I’d like the students to know how excited I am to be part of the Lees-McRae family, and that I’m ready for the challenge of building and continuing programs they want to be a part of. My door is always open, so come down and see me at the SRC, and feel free to let me know about things you want to see implemented on campus!

What is a fun fact about yourself or something people might not know about you?

I’m an avid animal lover of all kinds, and have had both a squirrel and raccoon for a pet.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

When I’m not on campus you can find me hiking and trail running most days, and paddling or backpacking as much as I can when then time allows. I love cooking and watching the Food Network, and listening to podcasts or curling up with a good book.

Do you have any favorite outdoor spots here on campus?

I enjoy spending time by the Mill Pond bridge and on the river right next to the SRC. My office is close to our mountain biking and hiking trails, so you can catch me there throughout the week on my trail runs!

A Q&A with Director of Campus Recreation and Outdoor Programs Lizzy Gardner
By Nina MastandreaAugust 27, 2018
Campus Life