By Amit Shilton
After months of indecision, Ryerson has found someone to stabilize its turbulent athletics program — for one year at least.
Earlier this summer, the school hired Jean Kennedy, the assistant athletic director from 1984 to 1997, as acting director of interuniversity sport.
“I’m not interested in the director position at all,” said Kennedy, who was also the leader in the planning and construction of the RAC. “I would have applied five years ago had I been interested.”
If there’s one thing Kennedy wants to make clear, it’s that she isn’t here to save the program. Having retired before in 1997, she seems content taking care of the in-house issues and waiting for a new director to provide their own vision. This will not only allow the new director to focus on future plans, like building a new facility, but it also makes the position more attractive.
“It just makes for a much more efficient, smooth-running program,” said Marion Creery, director of student services. Creery was also the former interim head of athletics after the school fired athletic director David Dubois.
Both Kennedy and Creery agree that planning to build a new facility for athletics will be a major point in the new director’s vision. When the school held a referendum in 2004 to increase student fees by $76, Kennedy was responsible for setting up policies and procedures. The students shot down the referendum, voting 60 per cent against the fee hike.
“That is not what an acting director does, the new director comes in and it will be big,” said Kennedy of a new facility for public and varsity use.
One of Kennedy’s biggest projects this year will be the development of an alumni base. Lynne Mallatratt has been hired to work 20 hours a week to create a database of every athlete to have played for the university. Kennedy hopes these alumni will help another one of her initiatives, her adopt an athlete program.
“It’s not new to the universities. Other universities do this already, we just haven’t,” said Kennedy of the program. These tax deductible donations, which range from $100 to $300, directly fund the teams.
When asked what she would like to change from Dubois’ and former interuniversity sport manager Terry Haggerty’s reign, she answers with one clear focus: support. Over the summer, Kennedy has developed an improved academic support system for student-athletes, ensuring students get their grades up and keep them there.
She’s also changed her new office around.
Joining her in the same room will be Liz Devine, a longtime Ryerson employee, whose priorities will be to work on alumni events, the academic success program, the figure skating team and the new women’s hockey team.
Karen Hood-Deshon has also been hired this year to aid the program’s marketing division after former manager of marketing and communications, Jane Brown, left her post.
“I think Jean’s very organized, very approachable, someone you can talk to,” said Graham Wise, the men’s hockey coach.
Wise, who was named interim athletic director for a short while last year, is a member of a management team set up to help Kennedy. Other team members include Devine, Hood-Deshon and Sandra Hart, the manager of recreation services and facilities. They plan on meeting weekly, where each member will report back from one area of the department.
“I need help,” said Kennedy. “I have a life and I don’t want to be the director.”