David R. Austin

Dr. Austin’s research has focused upon the social psychology of recreational therapy and professional preparation. Topics of over 140 publications have included attitudes toward serving persons with disabilities, burnout, and recreational therapy curricula.

He is the author or coauthor of five widely used textbooks:

Dr. Austin produced 23 instructional videos through the federally funded Recreation Therapy Video (RTV) Project, and he is author of the Health Protection/Health Promotion Model of Practice. Dr. Austin has served on editorial boards for the Journal of Leisure Research, Schole, Annual in Therapeutic Recreation, and Leisure Today.

He is a past president of ATRA, the Society of Park and Recreation Educators, and the Academy of Leisure Sciences, as well as a past member of the NRPA Board of Trustees. Dr. Austin is a fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences and a founding fellow of the National Academy of Recreational Therapists.

He is the only individual to have received the NTRS Distinguished Service Award, the ATRA Distinguished Fellow Award, and the SPRE Distinguished Fellow Award. He has been awarded Indiana University‘s highest teaching award, the Frederic Bachman Lieber Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching.

He has been named to the Union College Hall of Fame and was presented the Brightbill Award by the University of Illinois. In 1998, Dr. Austin received the NRPA Literary Award.

Behind The Cover

  1. What was your favorite recreational activity growing up?
    Growing up in Indiana, it had to be basketball.
  2. How do you bring leisure/recreation to your life?
    Playing with neighborhood kids in summers (almost every night playing “Annie Annie Over” and “Kick the Can”) and spending hours exploring the woods near our house. In high school, I played varsity baseball and basketball. Even in the summers during high school, we played basketball almost every day on the outside courts by the Fire House in Hanover or at Cristal Beach in Madison.
  3. When you started college, what did you see yourself doing after graduation?
    I thought I’d be a high school teacher and basketball coach.
  4. How did you get started in this career?
    Being blessed with very good luck! While in college, I took a summer position working in the recreation therapy department at Madison State Hospital (which was located close to my hometown of Hanover, Indiana). I loved the work. The Hospital liked me. And my career in recreational therapy began.
  5. Best trait of a successful student?
      Interest in learning. Perseverance doesn’t hurt either!  
  6. What issue within our field, do you think needs to be addressed/solved that will greatly improve leisure and recreation for everyone?
    The public understanding the great values to be found in recreation and leisure, particularly health related values from recreation and leisure participation.
  7. Top 3 people (alive or dead) you would like to have lunch with?
    My Dad and Mom and Jesus.
  8. A message for current students about the future of this field?
    Always do your best at whatever you do and understand how blessed you are to be able to do what you do.
  9. Unlimited budget, staff, and resources, what research/program would you do/run? Why?
    Establish efficacy research for recreational therapy interventions.
  10. What made you decide to write your books?
    At the time I first wrote my two major books, no books existed for me to use in teaching my courses. So I authored books to use as textbooks in my courses. In the case of Lessons Learned: An Open Letter to Recreational Therapy Students and Practitioners, I wanted to share with others some of my personal experiences as well as the core beliefs that I had developed over 40 some years in the profession as an educator and practitioner. In this book I give tips and advice for practice and raise issues that hopefully will be useful to those practicing recreational therapy.
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