“We’re going to win and we’re going to do it the right way. Division One athletics at Hartford will be relevant.”
That was the promise Mary Ellen Gillespie made right after University President-Designate Gregory Woodward introduced her as the new director of athletics on Wednesday, May 24. Gillespie, who currently serves in the same position at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, will begin her duties at UHart on July 10. (Read more about her career.)
During a well-attended introductory event in the University’s Sports Center, Gillespie laid out her priorities: a total commitment to student-athlete welfare, acting with integrity, winning, and building trust and community relationships to boost resources.
“I truly believe that Division One athletics exists to help an institution grow,” she said. “It is a platform for national and regional visibility and recognition. Athletics is the largest student engagement opportunity on campus and it is the perfect vehicle for alumni, student, and community pride and engagement. Simply put, we’re the front porch of this institution and we take that role and location very, very seriously.”
President-Designate Woodward said he couldn’t have asked for a better result as his first official duty as president. (Woodward will take office on July 1, succeeding Walter Harrison, who retires on June 30 after 19 years as University president.)
“Her ability to address athletics inside the University of Hartford in a very broad way is stunningly impressive,” Woodward said of Gillespie, who has a background in student affairs, Greek life, and fundraising in addition to athletics. “She brings a wealth of experience in many areas, which will serve the University well. I’m excited she will be part of our cabinet.”
A native of Sayville, N.Y. on Long Island, Gillespie says she is thrilled to be closer to home. She is also excited to continue UHart’s culture of commitment to academic, athletic, and personal excellence.
“We’re going to change lives and build leaders and we’re going to do it the Division I way,” she vowed. “Our students will be prepared with the skills they need to help them be successful in whatever they choose to do the day they cross the dais and receive their diploma.”