June 1, 2012
To Members of the Bowdoin Community,
Jeff Ward, Bowdoin’s Ashmead White Director of Athletics, announced this morning that he will be leaving the College to pursue the next chapter in his career. His announcement appears below. Jeff, who has led our Athletic Department with integrity for 14 years, will continue his work at the College through the summer to complete a number of important ongoing projects and to help us with the transition.
Jeff has built an enormously successful athletic department that reflects the ambition and values of the College. We want to take the opportunity here to highlight his most significant contributions and to say a word about the future leadership of Bowdoin athletics.
Jeff’s commitment to Bowdoin athletics and our student athletes has been remarkable. In addition to new programs and facilities, Jeff has built a talented and dedicated staff of coaches who serve as educators to our students both on and off the field. He has served as an invaluable mentor to young coaches, while also developing lasting relationships with countless student athletes, alumni, and parents.
Every fan of the Polar Bears knows Jeff as our most enthusiastic cheerleader. He is a constant and passionate presence at contests both here and on the road, and he has built genuine pride in our athletic programs, services, and facilities. Bowdoin coaches and students are honored to represent the College and they all expect to be successful. That confidence and expectation for achievement speak for themselves, and they are a testament to Jeff’s leadership, his optimism, and his pursuit of excellence.
Of course, Jeff has built much more than winning teams and a healthy spirit of competition. He has also integrated athletics more wholly into the life of the College in ways that have had a positive impact on our campus culture and on our broader community. Through the development of department-wide programs like Captain’s Training and Girls and Women in Sports Day, and by partnering with others at Bowdoin to develop highly effective programs addressing issues like sexual violence and homophobia, Jeff has transcended stereotypes, emphasized character, and shown us all the power of teamwork and cooperation.
Then there are the wonderful facilities that have come to life on this campus during Jeff’s tenure: The Sidney J. Watson Arena, the Peter Buck Center for Health and Fitness, the Howard E. Ryan Artificial Turf Field, the Lubin Family Squash Courts, and the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track. All of these have been praised for their beauty, functionality, and durability—characteristics that can be traced in large measure to Jeff’s advocacy, guidance, and imagination.
Of all that he has accomplished at Bowdoin, we know Jeff is most proud of his role as a teacher. While he treasures the enthusiasm and excitement that college athletics can inject into the lives of participants and the larger community—and the relationships that flow from these experiences—it is the educational component of sport that Jeff holds most dear. He believes strongly that an outstanding liberal arts education and a great intercollegiate athletic experience are a powerful combination that prepares young women and men for a meaningful and enjoyable life. Aspiration, preparation, understanding, self-confidence, and personal responsibility are at the heart of both, and Jeff has worked hard to ensure that, at Bowdoin, they are complementary experiences.
In the fall, we will form a search committee for Jeff’s successor that will include representation from across the College. Upon Jeff’s departure later this summer, Associate Director of Athletics Tim Ryan ’98 will assume this important leadership position as interim director. Tim has our full support and we are grateful that he has agreed to take on this role.
Bowdoin College has been a huge part of Jeff’s life, and we are a better place as a result of his efforts. Please join us in thanking Jeff for his many contributions to Bowdoin and in wishing him the very best as he pursues the next chapter in his career. Plans to celebrate Jeff officially will be circulated when the College reconvenes in the fall.