Q&A with new senior associate athletic director Dr. Kristine Kelly
On June 25, Dartmouth made a historic decision with the hiring of a new senior associate athletics director Dr. Kristene Kelly, the first African American to hold a senior administrative position in the Dartmouth athletics department.
On June 25, Dartmouth made a historic decision with the hiring of new senior associate athletics director Dr. Kristene Kelly, the first African American to hold a senior administrative position in the Dartmouth athletics department. Kelly comes to Dartmouth after spending the past two years as the athletic director at Keene State College and brings with her a passion for sports and high expectations for the various programs. A native of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Kelly comes from a diverse background of professional experiences, having been a member of sports administration teams at both Division II and Division III schools. After graduating as a member of the Class of 2000 from Johnson C. Smith University, Kelly has played a pivotal role in each of the athletic programs of which she has been a part. She served as an academic counselor and graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee, where she also earned her master’s degree. She served as the sports and information director at Johnson C. Smith for over six and a half years before moving on to sports administration. She then served as the senior associate athletics director at Saint Augustine’s University in North Carolina, supervising the 14-sport program before being hired as the athletic director at Keene State. Under her guidance, Kelly saw the Owls win eight conference championships and advance to eight NCAA postseason tournaments. Kelly has also emphasized the importance of balancing academics with athletic performance for student athletes. In the past two years, during her tenure, almost 200 student-athletes were recognized as All-Academic performers in the Little East Conference. Kelly will assume her new position in Hanover starting August 1.
How does it feel to be a member of the Big Green now?
KK: It’s exciting, it’s a very exciting time. I’m looking forward to August 1 so I can get there and get started. I’m hoping we will win lots of championships this year.
Where do you see your most immediate role as a part of Dartmouth sports?
KK: Wow. Well, first of all, you know when you’re filling a position that was vacated by someone who has been here for 15 years that’s already a lot to come behind anyone who has been here a long period of time. I’m hoping that my energy and my enthusiasm really just ignite the atmosphere at Dartmouth, particularly for student athletes in the sense of them wanting to excel in their sport of choice. I think for me, bringing direct athletic director experience, it’s a little bit of a different perspective having come from historically black colleges and universities where I spent quite a bit of my career, as well as in Division II and being a sitting A.D. in Division III. I think my varied experiences will bode well for Dartmouth.
What does it mean being the first African American senior athletic administrator at Dartmouth?
KK: I just realized that a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, I didn’t even pay attention to that until someone brought it to my attention. It means a whole lot in the sense of kudos to athletic director Harry Sheehy as well as the executive associate athletic director Brian Austin for recognizing that there is a very diverse population of student athletes and that their senior administration team should also reflect that level of diversity. I definitely want to say a shoutout to both of them for recognizing that, but then also I realized that me being in this role means that there are so many other young women, particularly African American women, who will be able to stand on my shoulders and recognize that they too can be in a senior level role in a very successful athletics program in the Ivy League. It means a lot to me. Obviously it doesn’t change the way I operate, but I want to do a great job. At the same time, I also recognize that for other young women coming after me, particularly women of color coming after me, it means a lot, so, I’m definitely excited about it, and like I said, kudos to Harry Sheehy and Brian Austin for recognizing that and making a difference.
Are there specific sports that you will be presiding over?
KK: As of right now Brian Austin and I have not had the opportunity to sit down and really hash that out because as you know the entire senior administrative team for the most part is being reconstructed to a certain extent. With Megan Sobel stepping away and former senior associate director of athletics Drew Galbraith leaving and going to Trinity College, that left two very hefty positions vacant, one being the senior associate for Dartmouth Peak Performance and the other as senior associate for varsity sports. Between the five of us, we will all have sport oversight. I think we’re taking that into consideration since you obviously don’t want one person that is doing all fall sports. You want to look at the fall, winter and spring, and you want to look at gender. Even though I will be serving in the senior woman administrator role, we want to make sure that I’m not only overseeing women’s sports. You want to look at the gender base and then we also want to look at the level of continuity that’s there for different teams. Some programs have seasoned, experienced coaches. Others have newer coaches. It’s all just trying to have balance between each of us and I anticipate that’s probably the first conversation I’ll be having on August 1.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.