Kostantinos Efstathiou hits the ground running

by University Communications,

Willamette’s new campus rec director talks about his past and future plans for the university.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I started my career as intramural and rec clubs coordinator at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, then held similar positions in California at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park and University of the Pacific.

One reason campus recreation became so important to me is because of my own diverse background. I’m a member of the LGBTQ community and I grew up with a faith that doesn’t fall under mainstream denominations.

As an undergraduate at University of the Pacific, I noticed how subtle behavior against marginalized groups left people feeling excluded, so I did whatever I could to make sure others felt welcome in their environment — I coordinated pride events, taught high-energy Group X classes like Zumba and brought safe zone training to the university. It was important for me to help make those changes myself.

Last year, I decided I want to pursue a doctorate in social justice at Oregon State University and will likely start that next fall. There’s not a lot of research now on how campus facilities can be built to be more inclusive — through graphics, hours of operation, even countertop heights — so that will be my focus.

What does inclusion look like in campus recreation?

We have to meet people’s different schedules and lifestyles, and I want to make sure our campus facilities are as accessible as possible to everyone. Inclusion can also mean offering nontraditional sports, which allow for a more even playing field — everyone can learn a new sport and be involved with others. At Weber, we created awareness of goalball, a team sport designed for the visually impaired, and students of any ability level could participate.

What were your first impressions of Willamette?

I’m from Beaverton, so it’s good to be back at an Oregon university. There’s a different culture here — students are intentional with their involvement; they want to know what’s happening on their campus and community and they want to be part of any change.

It’s also great to be back at a small, private university again. When you’re working at a school with 35,000 students, it’s hard to feel like you’re connected. Here, you have that connection and you feel like you’re making a bigger impact.

How did you approach the job?

My first steps were to assess what we have and see if the environment was welcoming and inclusive: Are we serving diverse students? Are we making it clear that we’re here for all students? I also interviewed several students and some faculty and staff on their needs.

What are your future plans for Willamette?

Based on input from several students — and some faculty and staff — we’re looking at ways we can make current programs better.

In the spring, we want to expand the types of noncredit group exercise classes and potentially start a running group or campus race series. We’re also thinking of creating a lunch hour walking group for faculty and students, which would give them an opportunity to meet new people and be more active.

As far as intramural sports, we want to start a “Learn to Play” series that allows students to participate in non-traditional sports like goalball at a low cost. For community members, we’re considering a master’s swimming program for people who can’t get to the pool in the middle of the day.

Kosti Efstathiou

Kosti Efstathiou, Director of Campus Recreation

Willamette University

University Communications

Waller Hall, Fourth Floor
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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