Indianapolis, Ind. — The NCAA Women’s Leadership Symposium, an educational program with the goal of facilitating the recruitment, retention and support of women in intercollegiate athletics, is proud to announce The Ohio State University Senior Associate Athletic Director Miechelle Willis as the 2011 recipient of the Dr. Claire Van Ummersen Leadership Award.
Willis will participate in the 2011 Women’s Leadership Symposium (WLS) Midwest in Indianapolis May 5-6 as a guest of the committee, receiving her award and addressing the attendees at the annual luncheon.
“Miechelle has made significant contributions to higher education and in particular intercollegiate athletics,” Gene Smith, Ohio State associate vice president and director of athletics, said. “She is tireless in her efforts to ensure student-athletes have a quality educational experience.”
The award is named for Dr. Claire Van Ummersen, the Vice President of the American Council of Education’s (ACE) Center for Effective Leadership and a passionate advocate for the leadership enhancement for women in athletics and higher education. Previously the President of Cleveland State University and as Chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire, Dr. Van Ummersen’s involvement since the beginning of the WLS has created a legacy for both herself and for the program.
Winners of the award must demonstrate the same commitment to the development of women intercollegiate athletics as Dr. Van Ummersen exhibits, and embrace diversity through leadership. Recipients must also have a minimum of five years of experience in intercollegiate athletics and may represent any division (NCAA I, II, III, NAIA, and/or NJCAA).
Willis was instrumental in the development of WLS in 2001 and continues to promote programming for women in the world of college athletics. At The Ohio State, she serves as the Senior Women Administrator to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference. Willis has served four years on the Division I Management Council, is currently on the NCAA Division I Recruiting and Athletics Personnel Issues Cabinet, and holds membership in the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA), as well as the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
Willis also served as the primary administrator for 11 women’s varsity sports for seven years at Temple University before joining the Buckeyes, and was a standout track and field student-athlete at Grambling State University while pursuing both her undergraduate (1976) and master’s (1978) degrees.
In the award’s third year, past recipients include Wellesley College Director of Athletics Bridget Belgiovine (2010) and University of Michigan Associate Director of Athletics Judith Van Horn (2009).
The Horizon League under the direction of Alfreeda Goff, Senior Associate Commissioner and Chief of Staff, conducted the first WLS in 2001 for member SWAs. With the assistance of Goff and Willis, Tiffin University Dean of Graduate Studies, Bonnie Tiell, and former Mid American Conference Compliance Director Tracy Scott collaborated to extend the WLS program to women throughout the Midwest.
The WLS expanded and each year’s program has seen success. The 2005 WLS was instrumental in the formation of the first ever NCAA presidential task force on life and work balance, and by 2010, the number of professionals and students nationwide enriched through their participation in the symposiums reached close to 1,000. Leadership and funding from the NCAA elevated the WLS programs in Boston (2009), Tampa (2010) and Long Island (2011), and has become important to the continued growth of the symposium.