Photo and story courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications
PHILADELPHIA -- Dr. M. Grace Calhoun, Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named the Division I FCS Administrator of the Year by the Women Leaders in College Sports (formerly NACWAA). The Administrator of the Year Award, sponsored by Learfield, recognizes administrative excellence and is presented annually to members in each NCAA division (Division I, FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA/NJCAA or Conference/Organization).
As Director of Penn Athletics and Recreation since 2014, Calhoun leads the University’s 33 varsity athletics programs, nearly 40 club sports, and broad-based intramural and recreational offerings for students, faculty, and staff. During her tenure, among many highlights, there have been 13 Ivy League team championships, 106 first-team All-Ivy players, 120 individual NCAA qualifiers, 49 Ivy individual champions, 56 All-Americans, 15 Ivy Players of the Year, 11 Ivy Coaches of the Year and one Rhodes Scholar.
“I am honored to be named the Division I FCS Administrator of the Year,” Calhoun said. “Being recognized by peers for making a difference in college sports is truly humbling. This is an award I will proudly share with my terrific staff at Penn, my Ivy League colleagues and all who have impacted my career throughout three decades.”
Penn Athletics has increased competitiveness during Calhoun’s tenure, winning six conference championships in 2016-17 (which ranks third all-time in a single year), while still achieving academic distinctions and offering a second-to-none student-athlete experience. In the most recent NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) announcement, Penn ranked fourth nationally, with 17 teams rated in the top 10 percent of their sport.
Calhoun has developed and implemented the “Champion Your Life” campaign for Penn Athletics, emphasizing five core values: Character First, Aiming Big, Humility, Enjoyment and Community Matters. She has launched a Student Development division to enhance the student-athlete experience through holistic programming in academics and life skills and the Penn Athletics Wharton Leadership Academy to foster leadership development for Penn student-athletes. Working closely with Penn Medicine, the Sports Performance division is becoming a national leader in using cutting-edge new technologies for the training, conditioning and injury prevention of student-athletes.
Calhoun has been active in the Women Leaders in College Sports organization, serving as a board member from 2013-16. She previously received the 2009 Nell Jackson Administrator of the Year Award, presented to an athletics administrator who exemplifies the personal qualities and professional accomplishments of Dr. Nell Jackson, former Olympic sprinter, coach and track administrator. This award is given to an individual who demonstrates qualities such as courage, conviction and perseverance, and who is an advocate for gender equity and diversity.
Appointed this year to the NCAA Division I Council, Calhoun came to Penn from Loyola University in Chicago, following earlier leadership positions at Indiana University, Dartmouth College, the University of Florida and the Patriot League. She began her athletic career as a track and field athlete at Brown University, from which she graduated magna cum laude in 1992 with a degree in electrical engineering. She earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration and an M.S. in exercise and sport sciences from the University of Florida, as well as an MBA from Lehigh University, which she earned while working for the Patriot League.