Closed Memorial Day - May 27, 2024

J. Robert Rossman - Author

J. Robert Rossman is one of Sagamore’s original authors. His book, Recreation Programming; Designing leisure experiences was published in 1989. Through eight editions for over thirty-five years, the book has been the go-to book about programming events and experiences in park, recreation, tourism, and sport curricula. The book is used at over 100 universities in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and other countries. It is considered a classic in the field. 

Throughout his career Dr. Rossman has been a scholar, author, and designer of experiences as well as advising the organizations that manage their delivery. He has designed and staged university commencements, community band concerts, a national student academic competition, and Science and Technology Week at Illinois State University. His work is informed by his early career experiences as an arts and crafts instructor, pool manager, and camp counselor as well as his professional career including serving as a community center director and assistant director of recreation for the Village of Oak Park, Illinois. 

Dr. Rossman has spoken about his unique experience design concepts around the world including Thailand, New Zealand, China, and Australia. He has consulted with the Morale Welfare and Recreation units in the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force to improve their programming practices. 

Dr. Rossman has made other contributions throughout his career. He co-authored, with Dr. William McKinney, The Certified Park and Recreation Professional Study Guide for three editions over a ten-year period. In 2008 he co-authored, with Dr. Gary Ellis, “Creating value for participants through experience staging: Parks, recreation, and tourism in the experience industry”, Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 26 (4), 1-20 that has had over 6,000 reads. In 2019 he co-authored with Dr. Matthew Duerden, Designing Experiences, Columbia Business School Publishing, that won a Silver Medal in the 2021 Axiom Business Book Award competition in the Business Intelligence/Innovation category. 

He has served as President of SPREE, a Board Member of SPREE, a Board Member for the Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, Chair of the Certified Park and Recreation Professional Exam Writing Committee, and other profession service posts. 

He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and an elected member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences and the Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. He was recognized as a Distinguished Colleague by ALS and a Legend by AAPRA. The colleges of both the universities where he earned degrees have presented him their Distinguished Alumni Award including the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois (2021) and the School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at Indiana University (2009). 

During his tenure as a faculty member, Rossman held academic appointments at five institutions where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses on designing and staging recreation programs. His final appointment was a three-year Visiting Professor post at Texas A & M University. During his academic career he earned the rank of professor and served for 13 years as a department chair and 10 years as dean. At Illinois State University, he holds the rank of professor and dean emeritus. 

Dr. Rossman lives in Phoenix, AZ where he continues as an author, scholar, and consultant on experience design and designing and staging leisure experiences. His days are filled with visiting family, travel, golf, gardening, and singing in his church choir.

Recreation Programming; Designing leisure experiences was first published in 1989 (its title has been slightly modified in succeeding editions). Its purpose was to provide a theory-based text for developing leisure experiences in recreation, sport, and tourism curricula. At the time, programming was conceived as a leadership activity. There was some resistance to the book and the initial reviewers recommended to publisher Joe Bannon that it not be published. Dr. Bannon published it anyway. The book was immediately well received. 

Professor Mike Wise from Virginia Commonwealth University was the first to review the book. He wrote “Our profession has needed a sophisticated and new approach to the theme of programming for some time. Robert Rossman has created an innovative and invigorating text on the subject of program development. This single contribution will fill the void in program development philosophy and modeling felt by most academics and practitioners in the leisure services field.” He continued, “Rossman has successfully elevated the concept of recreation programming from a study of leadership and program management to the study of understanding of the creation of environments in which individuals may achieve leisure experiences.”

The book has been adopted by over 100 universities in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and other countries. Dr. Barbara Schlatter became the co-author of the book in editions 3-8. Since its first publication, through eight editions, the book has sold over 35,000 copies and is considered a classic in the field. 

(Quotes from, Leisure Sciences, Volume 12, Number 3, (July—Sept., 1990). Pp. 324-326. A book review of the volume by Michael S. Wise, Virginia Commonwealth University.)

Legends - J. Robert Rossman:


Recreation Programming, 8th ed.