Dear Members of the Brown Community,
I am excited to announce the appointment of M. Grace Calhoun as Brown’s new vice president of athletics and recreation. Grace currently leads athletics at the University of Pennsylvania and is a national leader in collegiate athletics with nearly three decades of experience strengthening programs for student-athletes.
As a 1992 Brown graduate and a former varsity track and field student-athlete, Grace is returning to her alma mater. She will begin her new role at Brown on April 19, 2021. All of Brown’s student-athletes will be invited to a Zoom with Grace being scheduled for early next week.
Grace is a proven strategist, collaborator and leader who stood out in our national search as an exceptional choice to lead Brown athletics into a new era of excellence. She has the experience and drive to fulfill Brown’s vision for improving the competitiveness of varsity athletics teams, enhancing the strength of club sports and upholding Brown’s commitment to providing equal opportunities in athletics for women and men.
Grace will be responsible for strategic planning, fiscal management, and oversight of personnel, facilities and operations for Brown Athletics. In this role, she will supervise Brown’s NCAA Division I program consisting of 34 sports, a club sports program of over 30 teams, and a fitness center and program that serves the entire Brown community.
Previously, the head athletics role was a director position, reporting to the Division of Campus Life. The newly elevated role is a Cabinet-level position that reports directly to me. This shows our sincere commitment to advancing the role of athletics and recreation at Brown in reflection of the goals and values of our strategic plan, Building on Distinction. The plan emphasizes the pursuit of excellence within a culture that prizes innovation, appreciates the power of collaboration among individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and aspires to serve society by preparing students for lives of purpose and leadership. This embodies the vision of the experience we want to provide for our student-athletes.
Since 2014, Grace has been the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W’69 Director of Athletics and Recreation at the University of Pennsylvania, where she leads the University’s 33 varsity athletics programs, 38 club programs, as well as intramural and recreational sports. Performance across all sports has been among the strongest in Penn’s history throughout her tenure, as Penn teams have won 27 Ivy League or conference championships in 16 sports, among many other distinctions.
In addition, she has focused heavily on partnership between athletics and academics. Grace developed a strategic plan for Penn Athletics that created a partnership with the Wharton School to build leadership opportunities and a program in sports performance with Penn Medicine, as well as a civic engagement program in conjunction with Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships. She also has been committed to diversity, inclusion and anti-racism, commissioning a racial justice task force devoted to this work for the Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics at Penn.
Aligned with Brown’s goals of strengthening its club sports program, Grace has a record of success building the prominence of recreation and club sports as an integral part of campus wellness. Penn has provided high-level opportunities to more than 1,500 club-sport student-athletes and more than 6,000 intramural participants. As a leader, Grace has demonstrated throughout her career that she cares about the student-athlete experience. She is a collaborator who shared with the search committee her eagerness to work with and learn from Brown’s student-athletes, coaches, athletics staff, university partners and alumni community.
Prior to her tenure at Penn, Grace was the director of athletics and assistant vice president at Loyola University Chicago. Her prior experience includes serving as an associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at Indiana University, and working in athletics administration at the Patriot League conference, Dartmouth College and other institutions. She is currently the chair of the NCAA Division I Council, as well as the vice-chair of the PHL Sports Advisory Board.
Grace graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1992 with a degree in electrical engineering while competing on the track and field team. Calhoun later earned a master's degree in exercise and sports sciences and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Florida, and an MBA from Lehigh University.
I want to extend my gratitude to Eric Estes, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services, and Eileen Goldgeier, Vice President and General Counsel, who co-chaired the search committee. I also want to thank the Brown sports alumni, undergraduate student-athletes, faculty and administrators who contributed their insights as members of the committee.
When Grace joins our community in April, I hope you’ll join me in welcoming her back to her alma mater. I look forward to working with her as we continue to strengthen the student-athlete experience at Brown.
Christina H. Paxson