Courtesy of Yale Athletics and Taft School

Andy Dunn, Yale’s senior associate athletic director for internal operations, is set to become the director of athletics and afternoon program at the Connecticut boarding school Taft on July 1.

Dunn, who announced his new role in a tweet late last month, joined Yale in November 2011. As an administrator, he oversaw Yale baseball, men’s lightweight crew, cross country and track and field. He also assisted with responsibilities such as scheduling contests, travel, budget management and NCAA compliance. With Dunn’s departure from Yale, the Athletic Department is losing one of its more tenured administrators. But as he was considering a new job, Dunn said that he mostly considered interactions with students over specific professional experiences.

“I’ve been looking for a leadership opportunity in a place where I feel like I can go and kind of put my stamp on something, and the one thing that I’ve found in my 10 years here at Yale is that I love working with these incredible young people that come to this institution, the students that are equally driven by what they do on the court or field or ice versus what they’re doing in the classroom,” Dunn said in a Zoom call with the News. “As I learned more about Taft and learned more about their community, it struck me as a place where I have the opportunity to really meet these incredible young people at a point where they need mentorship probably even more than college kids do.”

Dunn serves as one of Yale’s three current senior associate athletic directors, a group that also includes Nathalie Carter, whom Director of Athletics Vicky Chun hired to serve as senior associate AD for fan engagement in May 2019, and Senior Associate AD for Payne Whitney Gymnasium Administration and Physical Education Anthony Diaz, who has worked in Yale Athletics since 1988.

Dunn leads the athletics operations unit within Yale Athletics and is the second-most tenured department employee atop an administrative unit after Diaz. The business office, equipment services, facility operations, fan engagement, strategic communications, creative services and ticketing units’ highest-ranking staff members all started at Yale after AD Chun began her tenure in July 2018.

Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella told the News that the department does not have any details on the process for filling Dunn’s position, adding that Yale currently remains in a hiring freeze.

At Yale, Dunn said his role in recent years involved liaising between the Athletic Department and Yale College by communicating with the Yale College Dean’s Office, as well as the deans and heads of the residential colleges. Having the chance to interact at the intersection of athletics and the broader student population was “a great learning experience” for him, the soon-to-be AD said.

Dunn, right, with Yale men’s cross country runner Cade Brown ’23 after Yale raced Harvard at the Yale Golf Course in September 2019. (Photo: Courtesy of Joe Wolenski/Yale Athletics)

His new gig as an athletic director this summer follows nearly 15 years working in college athletics at Yale and the University of Minnesota. During his recent search for a leadership role outside Yale, Dunn said he was mostly considering college opportunities at Division III schools and Division I institutions that he thought shared similar academic and athletic mindsets as Yale.

According to a report from Syracuse.com, Dunn emerged as a finalist last fall for the athletic director position at Le Moyne College, a Division II school in Syracuse, New York, about 60 miles north of his own alma mater, Ithaca College. Since completing his undergraduate education in 2005 with a sports management degree, Dunn’s career goal as an athletic administrator has been clear.

“I wanted to be an athletic director,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be an at institution where I’m still going to have that student-athlete relationship and still be able to be involved in the day-to-day operations.”

When the Taft opportunity presented itself, he found it was less “about where I am as about who I got to serve”: students. He pointed out that ADs at large Power Five schools, for example, might spend more time on fundraising and development than building day-to-day relationships with student-athletes.

“I guess I went even farther on that, and now I’m going to a boarding school where I get to have relationships with students all day, which is incredible because you get to connect with them on so many different levels,” Dunn said. “Not just them as an athlete or not just them as a student but also them in their personal lives as well, and being able to be a mentor in all those different roles is really exciting to me.”

Dunn said he, his wife and his three kids plan to eventually move into Taft faculty housing, but the pandemic has made an exact date for their move unclear.

Taft’s director of athletics and afternoon program position is new, according to the school’s director of marketing and communications, Kaitlin Orfitelli. In the role, Dunn will be responsible for overseeing a full slate of afternoon extracurriculars that includes sports, arts, student clubs and community service groups.

Taft’s campus and athletic fields. Dunn said he, his wife and his three kids plan to eventually move into Taft faculty housing. (Photo: Courtesy of The Taft School)

Orfitelli said four finalists emerged from an initial candidate pool of more than 60 applicants over the course of an eight-week search process.

“It was clear that Andy is a consummate professional, has been involved in diverse areas of university life, and is a thoughtful and principled leader with terrific leadership, administrative and communication skills,” Taft Head of School Willy MacMullen ’82 wrote in an email to the News. “Every person who met him during the process came away feeling he would serve Taft in an inspiring fashion.”

Jessica Chrabaszcz, Yale’s associate athletic director for internal operations, works alongside Dunn in the department’s internal operations division and considers him a “student-first administrator.” She thinks Taft “could not have made a better hire.”

“I knew from the moment that I met him that he loved Yale,” Chrabaszcz said — when she joined Yale from Auburn University in 2014, Dunn was the one who hired her. “His door is always open, and he is interested in the holistic student experience. He wants them to succeed personally, academically and athletically. … He will be their biggest fan, and I know firsthand he will celebrate their accomplishments and help them to succeed in every facet of their lives.”

Dunn received a master’s degree in sports management from West Virginia University in 2007.

WILLIAM MCCORMACK
William McCormack currently serves as a Sports and Digital Editor for the Yale Daily News. He previously covered men’s basketball and the athletic administration as a staff reporter. Originally from Boston, he is a junior in Timothy Dwight College.