Harper named to Hall of Fame

by Steven Orbuch | 11/12/03 6:00am

According to athletic and recreation director Josie Harper, "the pressures on both the coaches and student-athletes at Dartmouth have increased tremendously" in recent decades. Harper has observed this trend since coming to the College in 1981, as head coach of the women's lacrosse team.

Harper's career in athletics both at Dartmouth and beyond is plump with stories of success and recognition, including its most recent highlight " Harper's induction into her alma mater's hall of fame, which recognizes graduates who have excelled in their chosen profession. She was inducted into the Sturzebecker Foundation Hall of Fame of West Chester University on Nov. 7.

According to Harper, the most fulfilling moment in her career in athletics was in 1986, when she coached the Big Green women's lacrosse team to its first Ivy League Title. In 11 seasons as coach of Dartmouth women's lacrosse, Harper led her teams to a record of 88-69 overall, 37-28 in the Ivy League.

Harper became the athletics and recreations director in 2002. With the appointment, Harper not only became the first female athletic director at Dartmouth, but also the first in the entire Ivy League.

Harper, however, said that she never personally considered her appointment to be groundbreaking move. To Harper, it was a logical move for the department regardless of sex because she had a vast knowledge of the department's function and had served it for over two decades.

"The appointment was more of a statement for the institution in naming the first Ivy League athletic director than it was for me," Harper said.

Harper indicated that she has been particularly impressed by the performance and effort of Dartmouth's varsity athletes and teams this academic year, especially over the course of this past week.

"We had a wonderful weekend," Harper said. "I see a lot of kids and coaches working the best they can to represent the school."

According to Harper, people often overlook one of the most important aspects of job. Harper said that her position is not meant to just serve Dartmouth varsity athletics, but to also better the experience of recreational and club athletes.

For example, she said that the Big Green athletic department has recently formed a committee consisting of physical education and club participants from the College and the Dartmouth graduate schools.

Harper indicated that the goal of the committee is "to open the lines of communication between recreational athletes and the department" to encourage the department "to think outside the box to make better use with the time and the space we've got at Dartmouth."

Harper, a 1965 graduate of West Chester University, is the seventh athletic director of the Big Green. After joining the Big Green staff in 1981 as the women's lacrosse coach, Harper became Dartmouth's assistant athletic director in 1986 and then its associate athletic director in 1990, all while still coaching lacrosse.

In 1992, Harper retired as women's lacrosse coach to concentrate on her growing administrative responsibilities within the athletic department. In 1999, Harper became the department's senior associate director, before ascending to the department's top position in 2002, when former athletic director Dick Jaeger '59 retired.

Harper has also established a name for herself outside of Dartmouth. In 1982, she was the assistant coach of the United States lacrosse team that won the World Championship in England, and in 1986, she coached the U.S. World Cup team.

In fact, the Sturzebecker Foundation Hall of Fame is not the only hall which recognized Harper's accomplishments. Harper was honored by the New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Pennsylvania Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2002.