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Sport management program ranked among best in the world

It may not be the best-known program on campus, but recent rankings have proven what those who work in the Master of Human Kinetics program in sport management have quietly known all along: theirs is among the best in the world.

The program, with six faculty members and an average of about 15 to 20 graduate students a year, was recently ranked in third place worldwide by the SportBusiness International 2012 Postgraduate Sports Course Guide.

Jess Dixon

Jess Dixon.

Kinesiology professor Jess Dixon said considering that UWindsor is on the same list as first-place Ohio University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst—which he says are two of the most highly-regarded schools in the world for post graduate sports management programs—his department, and the entire campus, should be extremely honoured.

“To be in the company of those two schools alone is very impressive,” said Dr. Dixon, who earned his own PhD at U-Mass. “I’m very proud of these rankings.”

Dixon said a major contributing factor to scoring so high on that list was the fact that 85 per cent of the program’s grads find jobs in their field.

Mike Thompson, who graduated from the program in 2010, landed the job of his dreams as coordinator of fan services for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Marlies and the Toronto F.C. soccer team. Also a graduate of the Odette School of Business, he said he was thrilled to hear about the award, but not necessarily surprised.

“It’s a department that really cares about its students and what they do when they graduate,” said Thompson, who oversees a staff of 25 people devoted to ensuring fans have a top-notch experience when they attend any of the company’s venues, which include the Air Canada Centre, BMO Field and Ricoh Coliseum.

An Oshawa native, Thompson scored a placement working with the communications department for the Toronto Blue Jays while still a student under Dixon’s tutelage. He supported baseball writers in the press box, providing them with creative games notes, lineups and other team information.

“When I was working with the Blue Jays it never felt like work and it still doesn’t now that I’m here at Maple Leaf Sports,” he said.

However, professional sports teams aren’t the only places the program’s grads can find employment, Dixon said. They’ve found success in such diverse areas as in municipal parks, recreation, culture and tourism programs; the sporting goods and apparel industry; international, national and provincial sport governing bodies; sport media; athletic facilities and venues; management and marketing agencies; intercollegiate athletics; campus recreation; and public and private sport and recreation camps and resorts.

Human Kinetics dean Michael Khan said the program’s success can be directly attributed to a collective effort from all the faculty and staff who work there.

“We’ve got a tremendous team here and everyone is devoted to ensuring that our students get everything they need to help them succeed,” said Dr. Khan. “There’s a great tradition here of student centred excellence in which we integrate activities in research, teaching and community service and these rankings are a validation of all our efforts.”

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