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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 Dieser, Ph.D., CTRS, LMHC, has worked at UNI since 2001. His areas of specialty are therapeutic recreation, community parks and recreation, clinical mental health counseling, and youth and nonprofit services. He is an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Counseling and for over a decade was the coordinator of the master’s degree in philanthropy and nonprofit development with former students who now work as executive director of development, University of Iowa Children's Hospital at the University of Iowa Foundation, director of community engagement at Wartburg College and chief development officer at the Cleveland Clinic. 

Dr. Dieser believes classroom learning should be based on a professor who has one foot in scholarship/research and another foot in professional practice (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 the Mayo Clinic Proceedings and the USA Today, along with academic journals related to leisure (e.g., Journal of Leisure Research, Leisure/Loisir, Leisure Science, Leisure Studies, Therapeutic Recreation Journal and the World Leisure Journal) and counseling  (e.g., Counseling Today, Counseling Psychology Quarterly, International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology). Dr. Dieser has been recognized as a national and international researcher by such organizations as the Academy of Leisure Science, National Therapeutic Recreation Society, World Leisure Academy, and the Canadian Therapeutic Recreation Association. In 2020 his research paper presented at the Academy of Leisure Science received the best research paper award (co-authored with Dr. Jerry Lee at North Carolina State University) and in 2019 he was the keynote speaker at the 30th World Summit on Positive Psychology, Mindfulness, Psychotherapy and Philosophy.

Dr. Dieser has been an invited guest on Iowa Public Radio on three occasions, in May of 2020 related to leisure during the COVID-19 pandemic, April 2018 related to how the music of Bruce Springsteen aids in the development of moral wellness, and July of 2017 related to leisure services in hospital settings, with a focus on the Mayo Clinic. 

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. 

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). 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 in therapeutic recreation, clinical mental health counseling, community parks and recreation, and youth and nonprofit services. 

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