Longtime athletic department mentor Gail D. Smith takes on academic role

November 29, 2006

After 29 years as a coach and administrator in the Middlebury College Athletic Department, Gail Smith has acquired a new role as associate professor in physical education. Her current responsibilities began in September and include teaching physical education courses in the fall semester. Long recognized as an advocate for women in sports at Middlebury College, Smith is currently in the dissertation phase of her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies, with a focus on women's leadership in higher education.

From 1987-2000, Smith served as the head coach of the men's and women's tennis programs. Prior to that, she was the head coach of the women's tennis, and track and field teams from 1983-1987, and an assistant women's tennis and lacrosse coach from 1977-1983. She coached a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion in women's tennis, as well as a NCAA championship doubles team. In 1987, she was named an assistant director of athletics, and became associate director of athletics in 2001.

Along with her coaching responsibilities, Smith has been actively involved in numerous administrative duties, including her role as director of athletics operations with oversight of the $80 million renovations and construction of the college's state-of-the-art athletics complex. She has also served as tournament director for a number of NCAA events hosted by the college, and was designated by the NCAA to maintain and monitor statistics for an ongoing evaluation of gender equality in athletics as defined by Title IX, the federal law enacted in 1972 that prohibits gender discrimination in the athletic programs of educational institutions.

Beyond her athletics positions, Smith has participated in search committees for the college's administrative deans and on several residential and student social life committees that helped establish the college's residential commons system. She also served on the college's Optimum Health Committee, a group that reviewed health care benefits and helped developed campus wide wellness programs for college faculty and staff.

Smith has been actively involved in various professional committees, including the NCAA Women of the Year and Sportsmanship of the Year selection committees; the NCAA conference grants guidelines committee; and the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Coaching Symposium for Women core planning committee. She has also served as administrative liaison for the guided development of a new conference championship and scheduling model for men's and women's tennis.

In fall of 2005, she participated in the United Nations' International Summit on "Effecting Social Change Through Women's Leadership in Sport" as part of the U.N.'s International Year in Sport and Physical Education. In 2002, Smith was appointed by then Middlebury College President John M. McCardell Jr. as the college's Institutional Representative to the American Association of University Women. In 2003, Smith developed a program called "Sister-to-Sister," sponsored by the American Association of University Women. The volunteer program brings together local middle school girls and Middlebury College student mentors to encourage personal growth and self-awareness amid the many social issues facing young women today.

In 2005, Smith received the Middlebury College Faculty Feminist of the Year Award for her leadership among women athletes. She has received numerous NCAA initiative grants to fund NESCAC coaching symposia for female conference student athletes.

In the local community, Smith has served as a selectman for the town of Middlebury, and was a founding board member for the Middlebury Area Land Trust. She continues to be an avid tennis player and recently won a regional United States Tennis Association doubles tournament that will take her to the national championship in Daytona, Fla., in April.

Smith graduated from the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz in 1966 and earned a master's in education from University of Vermont (UVM) in 1996, and is currently at work on her doctorate from UVM.