This week was full of layoffs at Eastern Michigan University as it released its new budget, and in the midst of it all Bob England, the only director of recreation and intramurals in EMU history, announced his retirement.
The Ypsilanti native played football for the University of Michigan after graduating from Ypsilanti High School. He earned his bachelors in education in 1966 and his master’s degree in 1968, each from University of Michigan.
After beginning his tenure with EMU as an assistant professor in the physical education department, England was hired by the recreation department. At the time, the department was located in Warner Hall and shared offices with the athletics and physical education departments. The recreational and intramural resources consisted of three racquetball courts, the Warner pool and a weight room.
Since England’s hiring the university opened the Olds-Robb Rec IM facility, which opened in 1982.
With an indoor track, two weight rooms, basketball and volleyball courts, rooms for physical education classes, an olympic-sized pool, a whirlpool and much more, the REC IM serves as a place where students can compete with one another and keep up with their health along with their education.
England has planned and helped with the programs for about 22 recreational centers nationwide. His most recent project was at Ohio State University last spring, where they opened a facility that was built for about $140 million.
Many of those facilities are still running, but EMU is listed with some of the best. Between swim programs, summer camps, rental of softball fields, the pool and gyms as well as Courtside and the Pro Shop, the REC IM raises $500,000 every year.
England legacy is being kept alive as many of his student employees go on to become directors or associate directors for rec centers at various institutions.
EMU has also dedicated an award in England’s name for his 43 years of service. The Robert W. England Outstanding Student Award will be given annually to one student who demonstrates outstanding leadership and service in Michigan Intramural Recreation Sports Association and to recreation sports in the state of Michigan.
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