Sapora Symposium Forges Connections

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman

University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman will kick off the 2018 Sapora Symposium with a keynote speech.

If you are interested in working in the multifacted leisure services industry, do not pass up the opportunity to meet and mingle with current and future leaders during the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism’s 14th annual Sapora Symposium.
Named for recreation education and research pioneer Dr. Allen Sapora, who was largely responsible for establishing what was then known as the Department of Leisure Studies at Illinois, the symposium brings alumni and other luminaries to campus to share their experiences and wisdom with students through panel presentations, keynote lectures, and informal social events.
The department’s alumni advisory board created the event to provide students in RST with a variety of opportunities to network with professionals in the field. Now the event is open to any student on campus who wants to know more about recreation, sport, and tourism industries.
Current RST Alumni Council chair Jayne DeLuce, who is president and CEO of Visit Champaign County, says students can get a lot out of attending the symposium.
“Participating in the Sapora Symposium is about students connecting with UI alums and other professionals in the RST industry to build a valuable network and create opportunities for themselves during and after college,” she said, adding, “It’s a fun opportunity to learn about why this is the best industry in the world!”

This year’s event begins on November 1 with a keynote speech by University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, followed by a Young Alumni Summit. The summit features more than a dozen recent Illinois graduates who work with sports marketing firms, park districts, college athletic departments, and professional sport organizations such as the Chicago Blackhawks, Indianapolis Colts, and St. Louis Cardinals.
Friday, November 2, will be highlighted by a series of outstanding keynote speakers, including:
Former present of ABC Sports Dennis Swanson, who revitalized Monday Night Football and created the Oprah Winfrey Show;
Matt Meyer, who developed Halsey from an opening act to a headliner and who also represents Steve Angello, Krewella, and Cash Cash as an agent with the Paradigm Agency;
Marie Sutera, vice president of human resources with the Chicago Blackhawks and the organization’s highest-ranking woman;
Carmen Rossi, founder of the Chicago-based 8 Hospitality Group, a restaurant, hospitality-development, and management company that employs more than 900 people;
Deon Thomas, Illinois’ Mr. Basketball and the all-time leading scorer in Fighting Illini history who currently works as a community relations coordinator with the University of Illinois Office of Government Relations;
Emeritus professor Winton Solberg, recipient of the highest campus honor, the Chancellor’s Medallion, and author of Creating the Big Ten: Courage, Corruption, and Commercialization; and,
Mark Thomas, recently retired as the Western District director for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, who was the chief administrator of 40 state park facilities.
Admission to the Sapora Symposium is free, but students must register at CRN 70874. Students completing the professional development seminar will receive 1 credit hour.