Bulletin News

Recreation Expert To Receive Honorary Degree


Geoffrey C. Godbey ’64, a SUNY Cortland distinguished alumnus and one of the world’s leading authorities on leisure, recreation, public parks and tourism, will receive an honorary doctoral degree from the State University of New York during SUNY Cortland’s Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 12.

Godbey, whose research revolutionized the way leisure time is perceived and continues to influence both public policy and private development, will deliver the Commencement address at both the 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. undergraduate ceremonies.

“When we say SUNY Cortland educates champions, Geoffrey Godbey is the type of insightful and influential professional we have in mind,” President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “His work has helped make the world a healthier and more enjoyable place for millions of people, regardless of age, culture or income level.”

Godbey, who earned a degree in recreation from SUNY Cortland, went on to serve in leadership roles at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and at Pennsylvania State University, where he earned his doctorate and spent most of his career. Godbey was a founding member and past president of the Academy of Leisure Sciences and a representative to the United Nations’ World Leisure Organization.

His research, conducted over a span of more than 40 years, illuminates how people use their time and has added significantly to the academic study of leisure and recreation. He is the author of 10 books and more than 100 articles on issues that include time-use, aging, tourism, health and the future of recreation. Godbey was a co-founder of Venture Publishing, which produces titles related to those topics.

His expertise on wellness, recreation and tourism is valued by the business world. He helped develop LifeTrail, a series of exercise stations for older adults, served as advisor and spokesman for Hampton Inn’s tourism promotion and was a member of Hilton Hotel’s Leisure Time Advocacy Board.

Godbey’s focus on the relationship between leisure activities, health and the barriers faced by individual ethnic or age groups has helped guide policy makers at the local, state and federal level, as well as leaders in China and Brazil.

He has testified before committees of the U.S. Senate and a presidential commission, and given presentations in more than two dozen countries. Godbey served as a consultant for the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior. His research clients include the American Association for Retired Persons and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The SUNY Cortland Alumni Association in 1987 recognized Godbey as a Distinguished Alumnus, its highest honor. He delivered the keynote address at the College’s annual Scholars’ Day event in 1998 and delivered the prestigious Metcalf Lecture during the 50th annual SUNY Cortland Recreation Conference in 2000.

Most recently, SUNY decided to award him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

“Dr. Godbey exemplifies the College’s institutional priorities of academic excellence, transformational education, well-being and sustainable resource use,” President Bitterbaum said. “His experience and insight should be very inspirational to SUNY Cortland’s 2012 graduating class.”