Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Alumni Highlight - Greg Kaefer
Courtesy: Pat McGrath
Greg Kaefer is currently the Associate Director of Campus Recreation at the University of Illinois – Chicago. He has worked in the Campus Recreation Department since 1986 and began work in the field soon after culminating his graduate experience at Western Illinois University when he graduated in 1981.
Kaefer earned his undergraduate degree in business management from Eastern Illinois University. He soon realized his passion for being involved with sports and decided to pursue a graduate degree in the field. At the time, Western Illinois was one of four institutions in the country that offered a graduate program in the field. During his time at WIU, Kaefer worked as a graduate assistant in the men’s Campus Recreation Department.
After serving as an intern for the Chicago Bears, Kaefer started his professional career working for the NFL Alumni Association in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He soon realized that he wanted to be closer to home and moved to Chicago to work at Loyola University as the assistant director in the Campus Recreation Department. He was involved with the construction of the new recreation facility. After working for several years at Loyola, he was recruited to work at the University of Illinois – Chicago and has been there since.
When asked about working in various jobs in the sports industry, Kaefer stated, “I would never go back to athletics, working in recreation gives me the opportunity to impact so many more students.”
He enjoys working with students and advises those individuals interested in the profession in the field to gain as much experience as possible and in diverse areas of the organization.
Kaefer’s recommends that professionals “go with the flow of the program,” meaning that they adapt to different policies and changes that occur. He has seen the field of campus recreation change over time from simply being focused on facilities and intramurals to expanding and incorporating fitness, sport clubs, and outdoor programming.
Kaefer stated that it is essential to establish personal and professional priorities. These could determine whether an individual is willing to relocate to a new job. However, to advance in the profession, individuals must be receptive to move in order to gain experience with different employers.
Kaefer has accomplished his goal of working in a profession he loves and enhancing the lives of students. He entered the field for similar reasons as many pursuing graduate degrees in sport management: the love of being involved with sports. He developed his passion for campus recreation early in his career and continues to follow this path today.