President Kim’s tenure marked by athletic involvement
By Rahul Raina, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, June 29, 2012
Most Dartmouth students participate in athletic events on campus, whether it’s representing the Big Green in intercollegiate play or trying to win the softball intramural championship. Dartmouth has a great tradition of creating sports enthusiasts, and as we transition to a new era with a new leader, it’s important to take a look back at what outgoing President Jim Yong Kim has done to help strengthen the sporting culture on campus. College coaches and staff said that Kim’s presence in Big Green sports will certainly be missed.
Few people understand Kim’s influence on athletics better than Deputy Athletic Director Bob Ceplikas ’78. Ceplikas has seen the athletic program evolve over time and is a supporter of Kim’s work to promote sports on campus.
“We couldn’t ask for more in terms of President Kim’s strong support and personal interest in athletics and recreation,” Ceplikas said in an email to The Dartmouth. “[Kim] strongly believed that competitive athletics and physical activity are fundamentally important for learning and emotional well-being.”
Ceplikas said he understands that, given the poor economic environment during which Kim came into office, it was particularly hard for the president to make improvements with a free hand.
“During President Kim’s first year, we had to absorb our fair share of budget cuts,” Ceplikas said. “But he and Senior Vice President for Advancement Carrie Pelzel created new fundraising initiatives that have enabled us to continue offering broad-based programs at the varsity, club, intramural and recreational levels.”
One of Kim’s vital moves for Dartmouth sports was hiring Harry Sheehy as athletic director. Sheehy was instrumental in the creation of Dartmouth Peak Performance, an initiative to help athletes excel both on and off the field.
“President Kim and Sheehy have been an incredible one-two punch,” Ceplikas said. “They have infused our entire program with a renewed sense of commitment and pride that you can sense among our student-athletes, coaches, staff, community and alumni.”
Kim’s Chief of Staff David Spalding described Sheehy as “arguably one of the best ADs in the country” and said that the creation of DPP was a direct result of Kim “encouraging Harry and his team to think outside the box and do what they thought was best for our athletes.”
“When Harry proposed DPP to President Kim, he immediately put his full support to see the program become a reality,” Spalding said.
The majority of students felt Kim’s influence on sports when they saw him cheering at home games. Head football coach Buddy Teevens said that Kim has been a pillar of support for his program and others.
“President Kim’s relationship with his athletes is definitely very unique,” Teevens said. “Not only does he come to most of our home games, but he often travels to see away games as well. His close involvement demonstrates that the administration is aware of the importance of athletics here at Dartmouth.”
Spalding said he remembers attending a variety of sporting events with Kim, from field hockey to football to women’s basketball to soccer games.
“He always enjoyed having a chance to talk to athletes and coaches, just as he always enjoyed going to the classrooms,” Spalding said. “This gave [Kim] a chance to meet his students in person and express himself directly, striving to be a better leader on campus.”
Teevens said that Kim’s involvement with his athletes went beyond the sports field.
“Dartmouth athletes are multifaceted people,” Teevens said. “Speaking for my own team, we have a bunch of guys who have done great things academically on campus. President Kim has played a big role in making people aware of both the athletic talents as well the intellectual capabilities of his student-athletes.”
Ceplikas said that it was crucial to continue the “positive momentum” of the last few years under Kim.
“We have still got a ways to go before athletics matches the level of excellence of other aspects of Dartmouth,” he said.