SALISBURY, MD---When it comes to sports in higher education, Dr. Michael Vienna, Salisbury University athletic director, sees things in wins, losses and graduation rates. Tourism officials, on the other hand, see SU’s athletics more along the lines of dollars and cents.
For his efforts in promoting the area to countless visitors, from students to parents to NCAA officials, the Wicomico County Department of Tourism recently presented Vienna with the 2006 Betty K. Gardner Tourism Person of the Year Award.
Vienna “can best be described as a visionary leader, a true professional and a really nice guy,” said Sandy Fulton, tourism director. “He and his department have been valuable assets to the tourism industry in Wicomico County for many years.”
A 2003 study of SU Athletics’ tourism impact showed SU’s Sea Gulls helped bring more than $1 million dollars into the county from visitors who may not otherwise be familiar with the area. Much of this impact came from parents—both of SU students and from visiting teams—who came to the University to support their sons and daughters during both regular season and post-season athletic events. SU has hosted as many as seven regional and national NCAA championship tournaments per year.
Throughout these events, Vienna and his staff have gone beyond the call of duty to work with local tourism officials, Fulton said.
“The sports world is a small one, and this success has given Salisbury and Wicomico County national name recognition in certain sport circles,” she said. That translates into more visitors who make an impact on the county’s bottom line.
Vienna has made an impact on SU athletics since coming to Salisbury as associate athletic director in 1989. Since then, the Sea Gulls have produced many winning teams, consistently finishing in the top 3 percent out of 430 athletic programs in national Director’s Cup standings. For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. "