After almost seven years as Penn’s athletic director, M. Grace Calhoun left on April 19 to take the same position at her alma mater, Brown University.
Hired in 2014 to replace Steve Bilsky W’71 as the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W’69 Director of Athletics and Recreation [“Passing the Baton,” Sep|Oct 2014], Calhoun oversaw Penn’s 33 varsity athletics programs, 38 club programs, and other intramural and recreational offerings for students, faculty, and staff.
During her tenure, Penn teams won 27 Ivy League or conference championships in 16 sports, as well as three individual national titles and three national runner-up team finishes. In addition, Penn had 133 All-Americans, 226 individual NCAA Championship qualifiers, 31 Ivy League Players of the Year, and 119 Ivy League individual champions.
In the announcement, Penn President Amy Gutmann said that Calhoun “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.”
Calhoun began her career in athletics administration in 1993, a year after graduating from Brown, where she was a member of the track and field team. She worked for six other institutions before arriving at Penn, where she continued Bilsky’s priority of expanding fundraising efforts and upgrading athletic facilities, leading a successful development campaign that is on track to raise $200 million by the end of the academic year.
Calhoun also helped revive Penn’s storied men’s basketball program, which had fallen on hard times, with the hiring of Steve Donahue as head coach in 2015. And she’s been a national leader in intercollegiate athletics, chairing the NCAA Division 1 council and the Ivy League Directors of Athletics.
Calhoun has four daughters with her husband, Jason Calhoun, who has been head coach of Penn’s men’s golf team since 2017. Calling the decision to leave Penn “bittersweet,” she said, “I will miss these relationships dearly, but the tug of my alma mater is strong.”
Rudy Fuller, a senior associate athletic director for intercollegiate programs and a former Penn men’s soccer coach, will serve as the interim AD until a permanent appointment is made. —DZ