Vassar has chosen Michelle Walsh to be the new Director of Athletics and Physical Education after a comprehensive national search. Since 2012 Walsh has been Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator at the State University of New York at Geneseo.
"I am very excited to welcome Michelle Walsh to Vassar," said President Catharine Hill. "She comes with great experience at a variety of liberal arts colleges and a deep understanding of Division III athletics. I very much look forward to her joining our community."
Walsh supervised eleven of the twenty NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports at SUNY Geneseo, as well as the athletic training and communications staffs. She assisted the development and implementation of the departmental strategic plan, while enforcing rules compliance and eligibility for their Division III teams. Notably this past year, SUNY Geneseo earned the State University of New York Athletic Conference's prestigious Dr. Patrick R. Damore Commissioner's Cup, given to the member school that exhibits the strongest overall athletic program for the academic year.
While at Geneseo, Walsh also implemented the Student-Athlete Foundational Education (SAFE) program, which utilizes evidence-based programs to enhance the development of the whole student-athlete. She has served as the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Equity in Athletics at Geneseo, as well as Tournament Director of multiple NCAA postseason events.
Earlier Walsh served as the Senior Woman Administrator of Compliance and Student-Athlete Welfare at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts, which fields sixteen Division III teams. She oversaw the university's reporting for compliance with the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, as well as its NCAA Sport Sponsorship & Demographic reporting. Additionally, Walsh introduced a strategic plan to improve competitive success, and created a "Super Fan" program to promote sportsmanship and attendance at home events. She was instrumental in academic monitoring at Fitchburg State, as well as for university's community response network, collaborative planning group, and health and wellness committee. Walsh also supervised all athletic fundraising activities, serving as liaison to the university's development office.
Among her other Division III posts Walsh has served as the Facilities Coordinator and Head Women's Basketball Coach at Lawrence University. She was Interim Head Golf Coach and Assistant Basketball Coach at William Smith College, and she began her career in collegiate athletics as a Graduate Assistant Basketball Coach and Teaching Fellow at Smith College.
"I am immensely excited that Michelle Walsh will join Vassar as our next Director of Athletics and Physical Education," said Dean of Strategic Planning and Academic Resources Marianne Begemann. "The search committee was tremendously impressed by Michelle's leadership capacity, commitment to the student-athletes' academic and athletic experiences, and first-hand understanding of the importance that athletics and physical education play at liberal arts colleges. I look forward to partnering with her to achieve new levels of success for the department."
Walsh was herself an accomplished three-sport student-athlete at Swarthmore College, where she earned an engineering degree. She then completed a Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies from Smith College, and later a Master of Business Administration from Fitchburg State. At Swarthmore Walsh was a varsity letter winner in basketball, field hockey and softball, serving as a team captain for all three teams. Walsh earned All-Region and All-American Honorable Mention in 1997 for field hockey, and was an All-Conference First Team honoree in both field hockey and softball.
"I am deeply honored and excited to lead the Department of Athletics and Physical Education at Vassar," said Walsh. "I would like to thank President Catherine Bond Hill, Dean Marianne Begemann and the rest of the search committee for this opportunity. I look forward to working with the talented students, faculty, coaches, staff and alumni at Vassar to create an outstanding student-athlete experience. I am incredibly excited to be part of such a vibrant and diverse college community and welcome the opportunity to build on the current competitive successes of the athletic department while maintaining our commitment to academic excellence," said Walsh.
Walsh will begin her new position on August 17.
Added Dean Marianne Begemann, "I'd also like to extend my sincere gratitude to Kim Culligan for steering the Athletics Department forward as Interim Director over more than a year. Her superb work ethic and utmost professionalism have been recognized and valued by all."
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.