Professor Interviews: Patrick Tierney and Kayaking


Patrick Tierney is the chair of the Recreation, Parks, and Tourism department at San Francisco State. Soon after attaining his Ph.D. in recreation resources at Colorado State University in 1991, Tierney moved to San Francisco to teach at SF State.

Here, he teaches kayaking, which is a worthy fit considering his extensive past with the sport. Tierney has been kayaking for 33 years, and has braved some hostile environments, including through the Grand Canyon and under the Golden Gate Bridge.

He professes the notion of ‘growth through adventure,’ which is also a class offered through the department. Tierney believes that personal development and growth is best achieved through working in adverse conditions because you learn a lot about yourself and your limits in an extreme situation.

Recreation, Parks and Tourism is a unique department, in that it’s a “discovery major,” said Tierney. Students don’t usually set out to become recreation majors, but after taking a rec class like one of the several RPT 160 classes, they realize that there’s a profession in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. “And it’s really fun,” said Tierney.

RPT 160 is a series of one unit activity classes that are very popular among General Education classes. This spring, small boat sailing, rock-climbing and back country skiing are offered. And next fall, the department will introduce a new section: women’s back packing – in addition to kayaking, which is taught by Tierney.

“Most people take it not so much for the units…I think they take it because they want to take it,” said Tierney

Tierney’s SFSU homepage

Tierney’s experience kayaking the Grand Canyon:

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