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Health, Recreation and Community Services » Faculty and Staff » Rodney B. Dieser, Ph.D.

Rodney B. Dieser, Ph.D.

Professor, Recreation, Tourism and Nonprofit Leadership; Affiliated Faculty: Professional Counseling (Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling)
(319) 273-7775

University of Northern Iowa
WRC 203
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0241

Rodney B. Dieser's Vitae


Ph.D., Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta (Canada), 2002
MA, Mental Health Counseling, University of Northern Iowa (USA), 2014
MS, Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, University of Utah (USA), 1997
BS, Recreation and Leisure, University of Utah (USA), 1994
AS, Therapeutic Recreation, Lethbridge Community College (Canada), 1991

Honors and Awards

2020 Best Research Paper, Academy for Leisure Sciences for paper (with Dr. Jerry Lee)
2017 Fellow, Academy of Leisure Sciences
2017 Outstanding Alumni Award, University of Utah, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism
2016 International Fellow, China-North America Leisure Studies Network
2014 Outstanding Research Award, College of Education, University of Northern Iowa
2014 Milestone Award for Outstanding Mentoring to Graduate Students, Graduate College, University of Northern Iowa
2012 Fellow, World Leisure Academy
2010 Fellow, American Leisure Academy
2007 Presidential Citation, Society of Parks and Recreation Educators
2006 Outstanding Professional Research Award, National Therapeutic Recreation Society
2005 Tribune Article Award, Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association
2004 Research, Publishing, Writing/Speaking Award, Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (Canada)


 Rodney B. Dieser, PhD, CTRS, LMHC, is a professor in the Department of Health, Recreation, and Community Services (HRCS) and an affiliated faculty member in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program at the University of Northern Iowa. In HRCS his area of expertise is in therapeutic recreation, community parks and recreation, youth and nonprofit services, and mental health in public health. In CMHC his area of expertise is in existential-humanistic therapy, logotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, strength-based therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and solution focused counseling.

Dr. Dieser believes classroom learning should be based on a professor who has one foot in scholarship/research and another foot in professional practice, what is known as a scholar/researcher-practitioner model. 

As a researcher, Dr. Dieser has published over 100 academic articles, 30 professional articles, and six textbooks. His writings have appeared in some of the most prestigious journals in leisure (e.g., Leisure Sciences, Journal of Leisure Research, Therapeutic Recreation Journal), mental health counseling (e.g., Counseling Today, Counseling Psychology Quarterly, International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology), medicine (e.g., Lancet Psychiatry, Mayo Clinic Proceedings) and in esteemed newspapers (e.g., Chicago Tribune, Des Moines Register, USA Today). He is one of the first scholars in therapeutic recreation to write about cross-cultural therapeutic recreation in a sustained manner and is one of the first scholars in mental health counseling to link the Serious Leisure Perspective (SLP) to the professional fields of mental health and medicine. Dr. Dieser is an International Fellow of the China-North America Leisure Studies Network and Fellow of the Academy of Leisure Sciences and the World Leisure Academy.

As a practitioner, Dr. Dieser works 10 to 12 hours a week as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS) and a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) at Covenant Family Solutions in Cedar Falls (Iowa). He is a Diplomate Clinician with the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy (2021), with a thesis focusing on how centripetal leisure can help people discover meaning and purpose in life. He has also served as an adviser to the Mayo Clinic Dolores Jean Lavins Center for Humanities in Medicine related to a special anthology of how leisure spaces at Mayo Clinic help create a healing milieu. His prior employment includes working as an inclusion specialist for the Salt Lake City (Utah) school district with adults with developmental disabilities and working as a licensed therapeutic recreation specialist in addiction rehabilitation and homeless outreach for Catholic Community Services of Salt Lake City. Dr. Dieser brings into the classroom relevant research-based findings and real-world practitioner experiences.

His research and teaching interests include: (1) leisure and mental health, including leisure and wellness embedded in mental health counseling and leisure services at Mayo Clinic, (2) cross-cultural therapeutic recreation/inclusive recreation and leisure service delivery, (3) leisure education intervention, (4) inclusive recreation for people with disabilities, (5) historical and philosophical foundations of leisure, youth, and nonprofit human services, including Hull-House, 1889-1953, and (6) the nexus between moral development/wellness and songs/short stories of musician Bruce Springsteen. 

Mayo Clinic Proceedings Insights: Dr. Dieser sharing his research on how leisure service delivery at the Mayo Clinic can decrease patient stress and prevent burnout among physicians/medical staff

Iowa Public Radio: Dr. Dieser as a guest regarding the topic of the new relationship with leisure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa Public Radio: Dr. Dieser as a guest regarding the topic of making hospitals feel more like home through leisure environments