One of Athletic Director M. Grace Calhoun’s primary objectives during her tenure is to improve the unity of the student-athlete community. In doing so, Calhoun hopes to improve attendance at athletics games and an overall involvement in sports campus-wide.

Credit: Osama Ahmed

It’s no secret that the 2016-2017 school year was a highly successful campaign for Penn athletics. The football team repeated as Ivy League champions. The sprint football squad won the national title. Women’s basketball dominated the Ivy League en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance. Men’s fencing, men's cross country and women's lacrosse each took home an Ivy title of their own, and dozens of Penn athletes garnered All-American and All-Ivy honors.

So how does one properly cap a year like that?

Well, the program’s athletic director could win the the Division I FCS Administrator of the Year. And that’s exactly what Dr. M. Grace Calhoun did.

Awarded to Women Leaders in College Sports members, the Administrator of the Year distinction recognizes administrative excellence at all levels of intercollegiate athletics. Dr. Calhoun, a Women Leaders in College Sports member who was on the organization's Board from 2013-2016, was aptly qualified for the honor.

Since the beginning of her tenure as Athletic Director in 2014-15, Penn’s teams have become increasingly competitive and successful. So far, she has overseen 13 Ivy League team championships, 49 Ivy individual champions, and 56 All-Americans. The six conference championships won this past year alone rank third all-time at Penn in a single academic calendar.

Even beyond the titles and accolades, Calhoun’s positive influence pervades. Her “Champion Your Life” campaign emphasizes several core values essential for shaping Penn’s athletes into community-oriented people, and her Penn Athletics Wharton Leadership Academy works to mold these student-athletes into leaders of tomorrow. Finally, her focus also lies in the well-being of Penn’s student-athletes, as she has launched a Student Development Division designed to enhance their overall experiences.

In summation, Calhoun, individually, has had a strong start to her Penn career. Yet still, she highlighted her team upon receiving the award.

“I am honored to be named the Division I FCS Administrator of the Year,” she said in an official statement. “Being recognized by peers for making a difference in college sports is truly humbling. This is an award I will proudly share with my terrific staff at Penn, my Ivy League colleagues, and all who have impacted my career throughout three decades.”

Now though, it’s time to look towards Calhoun’s next phase of work, as she and her staff must prepare for the 2017-2018 school year that is rapidly approaching. After all, the athletic calendar kicks off with women's soccer's scrimmage against West Chester in just 15 days.

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