Speak to Wendy Windsor for about 10 minutes, and it’s pretty easy to determine her alma mater.
Speak to her for the better part of an hour, and it’s even easier to understand just how much Clemson University has meant to her career.
Windsor currently serves as director of Campus Recreation at Tulane University, where she runs a multi-layered fitness center and is in the process of welcoming a second facility for the New Orleans-based college with an enrollment of about 13,000 students.
Long before she assumed her current position, she put down roots as a Clemson student.
“I was basically ‘Miss Fike,’” said Windsor, who graduated from Aiken High School in the South Carolina midlands. “I lived in the recreation center. I started out as an Intramural Sports official and worked my way up to being a sport manager. Plus, several sisters from my sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma, taught group exercises, so I was in classes every day.”
On top of that, she was a member of the women’s club soccer team, serving as the organization’s president her junior and senior years. She played several Intramural Sports and aggressively pursued the Director’s Cup, all while establishing lifelong friendships and staying active.
Windsor was involved in multiple facets of the Student Affairs experience, beyond Fike Recreation Center. She was a member of Central Spirit, where she traveled to away sporting events, camped out for tickets and even waved one of the flags spelling out Clemson during a home football game.
She served as an Orientation Ambassador under the direction of Jeanine Ward-Roof. In fact, it was a conversation with Ward-Roof that helped set the stage for Windsor’s next step following graduation from Clemson in 1997.
“I grew a lot from the time working with Jeanine,” she said. “I remember a conversation where she said to me, ‘You’ve done so much here and given Clemson so much, maybe you should think about a different type of experience because it may be beneficial to go somewhere else and try something new.’”
Windsor heeded the advice and ended up in Auburn, Alabama for graduate school. She worked with Camp War Eagle, Auburn’s version of first-year student orientation. From there, she landed her first professional gig as a residential director and Greek Life coordinator at Brenau University, a small women’s college in Gainesville, Georgia.
Incorporating her passion from her days as a Clemson Tiger, Windsor began to discover her niche at Brenau — which had no Intramural Sports at the time. She helped launch a Greek Intramural league, and from there a career in college recreation was born. She put together successive stops in which both the scope of her responsibility and size of the institution grew and grew, including stints at Texas A&M – Kingsville, Middle Tennessee, LSU and UCLA.
What’s also grown is her role within NIRSA, a leader nationally in higher education and advocate for the advancement of recreation, sport and well-being. Her first year at the organization’s national conference in 2004, she met the president at the time, Sid Gonsoulin, who suggested she volunteer her time in NIRSA’s wide range of committees.
“It’s been a game-changer for me,” she said. “I’ve always — even during my Clemson experience — been someone who’s not just going to sit back and not be involved. I also never shied away from a challenge. Before I knew it, I started to become that leader within our association people began to recognize.”
That recognition is at an all-time high, as Windsor is serving currently as president-elect. Next year, she’ll be the president-designee. Ultimately, she’ll serve as NIRSA president in the third year of her term.
Windsor is only the second woman of color to be named president — an achievement not lost on her.
“We’ve been pretty intentional in trying to get more people of color to step into leadership roles,” she said. “A lot of conversations with minority women, who are looking for that role model, helped me realize that this was my time.”
When she’s not busy overseeing Tulane’s facilities or her full-time staff of more than 20 employees, or wearing the president-elect hat for NIRSA, Windsor can be found pulling for her Tigers or gathering with Clemson alumni for big events.
She’s become close friends with current Tulane women’s tennis coaches and former Clemson standouts Maru Brito and Keri Wong. She said a strong contingency of Clemson alumni gather for football watch parties at Fat Harry’s, a restaurant in New Orleans.
Clearly, Clemson is in Windsor’s blood, and she has never forgotten those roots as her career has progressed.
“I was always and obsessive, crazy and insane fan you hear about,” she laughed. “When I was at Middle Tennessee, we came to play Clemson in football. The way we were treated, the hospitality — it was my first time experiencing it from the other side. What people say about Clemson fans is true.”
It’s also true that Wendy Windsor has made Clemson University and the campus recreation field proud of her many successes over the years.