With the Yale Precision Marching Band blaring behind her and Handsome Dan scampering at her feet, Vicky Chun ascended to the second floor of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library for her formal appointment as Yale’s new director of athletics, physical education and recreation. Chun is the first woman to hold the position in the University’s history.
University President Peter Salovey introduced Chun in front of a gathering of Yale’s coaches and athletic administrators on Thursday. With the lofty backdrop of the Beinecke library’s high, white-paneled walls and glass cases of ancient manuscripts, the stately setting was fit for a history-making appointment. Chun will replace Tom Beckett, who will retire in June after a record-breaking 24 years at the helm of Yale athletics. Beckett is also the longest-serving director of athletics in the Ivy League.
“Vicky is a nationally respected leader in college athletics,” Salovey said in his address. “She will advance Yale’s reputation for excellence as she supports our outstanding intercollegiate and intramural athletes. Most important to me, she loves Yale, and is totally committed to the success of our student-athletes in every dimension. … She’s a tough leader with a great spirit and enormous energy.”
Currently the Vice President and Director of Athletics at Colgate, Chun, 49, is the only person in NCAA Division I history to earn honors as both player of the year and coach of the year in the same conference and to win conference championships in both capacities. She played and coached volleyball for the Raiders, graduating in 1991 and serving as the head coach from 1994 until 1997.
Chun has served as Colgate’s director of athletics since 2013. From 2001–2005, she was the commissioner of the New York State Women’s Collegiate Athletic Association.
“Vicky Chun is an outstanding choice for Yale,” Beckett said. “She understands what our student-athletes are passionate about; she understands what our coaches are working to achieve. She’s been there as a student, and she’s been there as a coach. To get that kind of a combination as the leader of the department is extraordinary.”
Chun’s selection was the result of a five-month search process headed by a committee of 12 people including Yale College Dean Marvin Chun, volleyball coach Erin Appleman and men’s lacrosse captain Ben Reeves ’18. Greg Santore of the search firm Witt/Kieffer Inc. also assisted the committee with the search.
Yale Law School professor Jonathan Macey LAW ’82, who served on the search committee, said he was pleased with its results.
“I’m delighted with how the search process went,” Macey said. “[Chun] had all the qualities we were looking for. She’s a great leader. She understands the student-athlete experience at a research university, and she is a people person.”
When Chun took the podium this afternoon with Handsome Dan’s leash in hand, she outlined a vision for the future of Yale athletics that blended her and Beckett’s success in development with a sincere focus on how sport and education interact.
Like Beckett, who has seen the athletic department’s endowment balloon from $20 million in 1994 to $283 million today, Chun has overseen a 200-percent increase in giving to athletics support groups at Colgate. Additionally, Chun has sparked near unrivalled academic success among student-athletes. Since she became director of athletics in 2013, Colgate’s student-athletes have achieved a 98 percent graduation rate, which is the second best in the nation. In 2016, student-athletes achieved a higher average GPA than the overall student body.
“My vision for Yale athletics is threefold,” Chun said. “To enhance the University’s winning culture and commitment to competitiveness, to support the unparalleled education of leaders and to continue to change the world through the same combination of academics and sport that my parents nurtured in me.”
Chun serves in a variety of roles outside her position at Colgate. She is one of 40 members of the NCAA Division I Council and also acts as vice chair of the Division I Football Oversight Committee.
JoAnn Harper became the first woman to hold the position of athletic director in the Ivy League when Dartmouth hired her to the position in 2002.
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