Pomona College announced the
appointment of Lesley Irvine as the chair of the Department of Physical
Education at Pomona and the Director of Pomona-Pitzer Athletics on April 3,
following a national search. She
will officially begin June 1.
Charlie Katsiaficas had held
both positions part-time while also serving as the men’s basketball coach.
Irvine’s position will be full-time, and she will not have any coaching
Jill Grigsby, associate dean of
the college and chair of the search committee, wrote in an email to TSL that this change is a result of a
self-study and an external review of the Departments of Athletics and Physical
Education conducted last year. The three external reviewers, all athletic
directors from Division III colleges, recommended that the position be updated
to a full-time position.
“The reason they gave had to do
primarily with the growing demands on the position—demands from the NCAA, as
well as the need for Athletics and Physical Education to integrate more fully
with other areas of Pomona and Pitzer, in particular admissions, institutional
advancement and student affairs,” Grigsby wrote.
This isn’t the first time that the combined director and chair position has been full-time. Before Katsiaficas held the position, it used to be a full-time position from the late 1960’s to 2000.
According to Pomona’s website,
Irvine’s responsibilities will include overseeing “intercollegiate athletics,
Pomona College physical education activity classes, the faculty/staff fitness
and wellness program, intramural/club sport and recreation programs and
academic offerings.” She will be granted coterminous faculty status at the
level of professor.
In their search for a new
department chair, the committee worked with an outside firm to advertise the
position on a national level. The committee consisted of nine Pomona faculty
members, one Pitzer faculty member, one Pitzer student and two Pomona
students. The students had an equal voice in the decision, according to
Irvine is currently working as
senior associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator at Bowling
Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, positions she has held for the
past five years. She also serves as the university’s deputy Title IX
coordinator, where she is tasked with “monitoring and evaluating progress
toward gender equity and minority opportunities plans,” according to Pomona’s
Students have expressed positive
feelings towards Irvine’s appointment. Alaina Woo PO ’17, a student member of
the committee, wrote in an email to TSL that she was impressed by
Irvine and she, along with the rest of the committee, felt that Irvine would be a good advocate for athletes and be effective at
communicating student-athlete needs to the administration.
“Not only did she demonstrate
exceptional understanding of Pomona, Pitzer and the unique consortium
experience, but she had incredible things to say about her personal experiences
as a student-athlete,” Woo wrote.
As per the expressed goals of
student athletes, Woo wrote that she thinks many student athletes are looking
to improve school spirit and create social, service and educational spaces on
and off the field that better fit into Pitzer and Pomona’s narratives. She
believes that Irvine will be “a great help in getting some of these initiatives
off the ground.”
Irvine said that one of the most
exciting parts for next year will be “learning the way things are done at the
new campus.” Before the interview process with the committee she did an
extensive research on “the institution and their goals” in order to make sure she
and the institution shared the same goals and ideals.
With this goal of
cohesiveness in her transition, Irvine elaborated on the idea of effective communication between
staff, students and other key constituents.
“I think the focus will be developing relationships,” Irvine said. “Doing a lot of
learning and listening, having fun identifying areas and opportunities for
growth, and really just starting to piece together a plan that really fits the
goal and values of the institution.”
Irvine said that student body
participation and meaningful interaction with the athletic department and its games will be the most important parts of her work.
“The experience of the students
as they interact with these activities will be extremely
important to me, whether you are a participant or attending an event, and I
want to do all I can to make that a valuable and positive experience,” she
This article was updated April 29. It originally indicated that Irvine was the first to hold the position as a full-time position.
This article was updated May 21. The headline originally indicated that Irvine was the first to hold the position as a full-time director.