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Penn Athletics Director M. Grace Calhoun will leave her position at Penn on April 19th to be Brown University's vice president of athletics and recreation. Credit: Sage Levine

On April 19, M. Grace Calhoun will vacate her position as Penn's director of athletics and recreation to assume the role of vice president of athletics and recreation at Brown University. 

Calhoun graduated magna cum laude from Brown in 1992, where she competed as a varsity track and field athlete.

“Grace will depart having left an indelible mark on Penn Athletics, not only on the field of competition, but also in a deeply felt commitment to the overall health, safety, and success of our student athletes and in the strategic planning and operations of the division," Penn President Amy Gutmann said. "She has done important work in addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within athletics.”

Calhoun boasts nearly three decades of athletic administrative experience. Prior to arriving at Penn, Calhoun worked at Loyola University Chicago, Indiana University, and Dartmouth College, among other schools. 

During Calhoun’s tenure as Penn's athletics director, the Quakers captured 27 Ivy League titles in 16 different sports, three individual national titles, and three national runner-up finishes, while also continually boasting one of the best NCAA Academic Progress Rates in the nation. The APR tracks the academic performance and subsequent eligibility of student-athletes.

Since 2019, Calhoun has also served as the chair of the NCAA Division I Council, guiding the NCAA through one of the most difficult and unexpected periods in recent sports history. Moreover, Calhoun recently completed a two-year term as the chair of the Ivy League Directors of Athletics. 

Calhoun has also spearheaded several recreational and fundraising campaigns. Most notable is the “Game Onward” fundraising campaign, which is on track to raise over $200 million for Penn Athletics. Additionally, through intentional oversight by Calhoun and her administration, Penn's Pottruck Health and Fitness Center has become the nation’s second-rated fitness center.

In addition, Calhoun commissioned the Racial Justice Task Force, which launches initiatives and motions to reinforce Penn Athletics' commitment to being an inclusive, antiracist organization. 

Due to her consistent involvement in communities and issues larger than just those at Penn, such as serving as the chair of the Big 5 Athletics Directors, Calhoun was inducted into Sports Business Journal’s 2020 class of Game Changers: Women in Sports Business. 

“Everyone at Penn will miss Grace, but we also understand and respect the desire to return to a place that she loves at Brown,” Provost Wendell Pritchett said. “We wish her and her family only the best as they make the transition to Rhode Island.”

Rudy Fuller will serve as the interim athletics director while Penn searches for Calhoun’s permanent replacement. Fuller previously spent 20 years as head coach of Penn men's soccer, and assumed the role of senior associate athletic director for intercollegiate programs in 2018. 

Finding someone whose experience, poise, and vision rival Calhoun’s will be a challenge.