Campus recreation director says farewell after 35 years

Hannah Lee

Becky Purser, the first and only director of recreation that UNF has known, retired last Friday at a farewell party in the Wellness Center.

Purser worked for the university for almost 35 years and has transformed recreation at UNF from a shack in the woods and a makeshift basketball court in a parking lot to the arena and the three-story wellness center.

In the crowd were many UNF contributors, including past university president Dr. Adam Herbert. Assistant Director of Recreation Heather Kite and Everett Malcom, the Associate Vice President for Student and International Affairs, kicked off the farewell party by remembering her accomplishments and her spirit while working for the university.

“One of the things that I will take away from working with Becky is her ability to go with the flow, maybe it has something to do with sailing,” Kite said. “She does have this back and forth when things come against her. One of the things that I can say is most prominent about her is how she can go with the flow and still have a smile of her face.”

The faculty and staff awarded Purser a Osprey Plaza Paver, a brick that will forever stay in the Student Union’s Osprey Plaza, recognizing her name and her impact to the university.

Many recounted their memories of Purser, all saying she was enthusiastic and had a smile. Sheina Costa, a graduate student in Public Health and the Public Relations Health Educator of Health Promotions, said that everyone would miss her presence and her leadership.

Purser retired after 35 years of service. Photo by Hannah Lee

“She’s always smiling. She greets everybody well,” said Costa. “She is very enthusiastic.”

Ashley Ballard, the Director of Health Awareness, will become the new overall director of the combination of recreation and health promotion  departments. The departments will merge on July 1 and will be called “Recreation Wellness.”

Purser then gave a heartfelt speech, recognizing all who helped her make her dream of campus recreation into a reality. She was involved with the building of the aquatics center, the construction and first time use of the UNF Arena. Her most recent accomplishment was helping Student Government secure money to fix the Nature Trails.

“[We couldn’t suceed] Without the students, which really is the key for all of us, that’s why we do our jobs,” Purser said. “The students and the wonderful team from campus recreation, that’s why I’ve been here for 35 years.”

She also recalled that she oversaw 466 graduations and will come back to see the next two years of students graduating.

Purser plans on spending her retirement by sailing and relaxing on the beach.

“I want to thank all of you,” said Purser. “And I’m really excited to start sailing more.”

She finished her speech with one last swoop.

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