Welcome from the Department Head

Scott Shafer, RPTS Department Head

Established in 1966, the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (RPTS) recently observed its 50th anniversary. The department has evolved and adapted in a growing university during these years but, its mission has remained unchanged: “to enhance individual and social well-being and environmental and economic sustainability by generating and disseminating knowledge about the management and development of recreation, park, community, and tourism resources.” Our core values (https://rpts.tamu.edu/about/mission-vision-and-values/) not only continue the legacy and history of our Department, they reaffirm our commitment to contribute to the greater good and enhance the quality of life for the people of Texas, the nation, and the global community.

Graduate students study with top faculty members who apply social science to inform community development, natural resource management, leisure behavior, recreation and park administration, tourism management, and youth development. Our Bachelor of Science degree includes choices of certificates in youth development, tourism, resource conservation and/or community parks. We also offer a Professional Event Manager Certificate; and an Online Hospitality Management Certificate which serve our students and others from across the university.

Other programs of the Department such as the Applied Bio-diversity Science Program, the Ecoexist Elephant Project-Botswana, the National Park Service’s ProRanger Program, and the Human Dimensions Research Lab provide experiential learning opportunities with various agencies and partners. Departmental study abroad programs in the South Pacific, Mexico, the Caribbean and the Amazon Field School help broaden our students’ intellectual and personal experiences through exposure to various cultures and countries. Study abroad programs are becoming more and more important to education about the strengths of diversity, the importance of humility and ways to contribute positively to the lives of all people. Further, our AgriLife Extension programs in festivals and events, youth development, coastal watersheds, hospitality, and municipal parks connect the Department with local people and communities in Texas to improve quality of life.

Housed in a LEED certified building, equipped with cutting-edge technology, and facilitated by a dedicated team of faculty and staff, RPTS is a second home for our students. Our multi-disciplinary, distinguished faculty work to instill creativity and problem-solving skills in our students so that they can succeed as practitioners, scholars and leaders. Applying foundational and innovative research tools, our faculty and their graduate students are engaged in scholarship that covers a wide range in recreation, parks and tourism. It has been the stated policy of our Department to support faculty and students’ presence at leading professional and scientific meetings, a commitment that continues. Our Department’s graduate student council works to develop scholarly and social opportunities that support an active and enriching educational experience. Our undergraduate student clubs support service projects, conference participation and social activities that introduce them to a host of professionals and career opportunities.

The role of Department Head is a challenge with abundant opportunity. I am encouraged daily by the support of the faculty, staff, and students in this department. Together we are set to further the university’s land grant mission as we begin the next 50 years. Our dedicated staff and faculty are always eager to answer your specific questions or meet and greet you in person if you have time to visit us. The warmth and friendly spirit of Howdy! reverberates throughout Aggieland and the RPTS Department.


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