University News

Welcoming M. Grace Calhoun
Advancing Brown’s vision for athletics and recreation

By Christina Paxson / June–August 2021
June 15th, 2021

Athletics and recreation are integral to the collegiate experience. Both varsity sports and club sports benefit student-athletes by providing exceptional leadership opportunities, facilitating key skills of collaboration and teamwork, and advancing students’ health and well-being. 

Meanwhile, the experience of athletics also contributes significantly to building community and a shared sense of pride. Anyone who was on campus in November 2019 and witnessed the moment when the women’s soccer team clinched the Ivy League title with a penalty kick in double overtime knows the kind of energy that flowed throughout the community in the weeks and months that followed. 

Brown’s vision for athletics and recreation involves building on these successes. We want our student-athletes to thrive in athletic competition and academics while honing important life skills and helping to further a sense of community. To advance this vision, we are thrilled to welcome M. Grace Calhoun ’92 back to Brown as vice president of athletics and recreation. 

Grace is a national leader in collegiate athletics with nearly three decades of experience strengthening programs for student-athletes, enhancing recreational experiences for all students, and steering national discussions around the future of college athletics. As a Brunonian, Grace understands the Brown student-athlete experience, and she’s eager to collaborate with our student-athletes, coaches, athletics staff, University partners, and members of the alumni community to leverage Brown’s assets and bolster our athletics and recreation programs. 

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a profound impact at my alma mater—to use my transformative Brown experience to transform the lives of others.”
—M. Grace Calhoun ’92

Grace returns to Brown from the University of Pennsylvania, where she led 33 varsity athletics programs and 38 club programs as well as intramural and recreational sports. During her tenure at Penn, performance across all sports was among the strongest in Penn’s history, with teams winning more than two dozen Ivy League or conference championships in 16 sports. She also has an outstanding record of success in building the prominence of Penn’s recreation and club sports programs as an integral part of campus wellness. 

While Grace loved her work at Penn, she said she felt an incredibly strong pull to return to Brown. She noted, “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a profound impact at my alma mater—to use my transformative Brown experience to transform the lives of others.”

Our strategic plan, Building on Distinction, emphasizes the pursuit of excellence within a culture that prizes innovation, appreciates the power of collaboration among individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and aspires to serve society by preparing students for lives of purpose and leadership. This embodies the vision of the experience we want to provide for our student-athletes. Reflecting our sincere commitment to advancing the role of athletics and recreation at Brown, I have elevated the head athletics role from a director position to a Cabinet-level position.

Grace’s return to Brown comes at an incredibly important moment. For more than a year the public health situation has required our student-athletes to largely sacrifice the competition that is so integral to their experience, while recreational opportunities were also necessarily scaled back. As the public health situation continues to improve, I’m thrilled at the prospect of returning to the days of competitive sports with excited spectators cheering on the Bears from the sidelines. I’m grateful that we have a leader of Grace’s exceptional caliber who has already hit the ground running and stands ready to lead Brown Athletics into the next era of excellence. 

Read the June–August 2021 President's Spread on "Toward a Healthier Rhode Island" here (PDF)

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Related Issue
June–August 2021