Suzanne R. Coffey

In establishing the Bates Scholar-Athlete Society with Dan Doyle’s assistance in March of 2005, Suzanne Coffey said, “Bates student-athletes will know from their first days on campus that induction into the Scholar-Athlete Society is a goal whose achievement is modeled by generations of outstanding students. By dedicating themselves intensively to both academic and athletic pursuits, students at Bates set a standard for each other and for our wider academic and athletic communities. In creating the Scholar-Athlete Society, Bates is presenting to our students a clear statement about the expectation for excellence in the classroom and achievement on the playing field.

“Athletics certainly should not dominate,” she continued, “but it absolutely is part of the mission of our academic institutions. It should be considered in the same context as classroom learning, service-learning and study abroad.”

How fitting that today we induct Suzanne into the Scholar-Athlete Society as a former coach and member of the faculty.

In the mid-1970s, Suzanne was among the first women in the United States to receive an athletic scholarship to attend college. Suzanne, a painter, had considered going to art school. But when the University of New Hampshire offered her a full scholarship to play field hockey and lacrosse, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Suzanne majored in studio art and minored in philosophy at UNH. “I was living in three worlds,” she recalls. “The athletes and the artists and the philosophers didn’t know each other.” Ever since then, she has been trying to strengthen connections between athletics and academics, and she received a master’s degree in public policy from the Edmund Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, where she currently is a doctoral candidate.

Suzanne taught and was a member of the Bates Athletics Department beginning in 1985, when she was named associate director of athletics, assistant professor of physical education and head coach of the women’s lacrosse team. She was promoted to associate professor in 1995, and was named athletic director in 1991, after serving as interim AD the year before. In her 15 years as the AD at Bates, she successfully administered the 30 intercollegiate teams and 12 competitive club sports programs, oversaw expansion of Bates’ athletic facilities, and served on campus committees related to diversity and the campus master plan.

Suzanne is also a national leader in collegiate athletics. She has been a member of the NCAA’s association-wide Diversity Leadership Task Force and held the top Division III post as chair of the Management Council in 2004–05. In 2003–04, she was vice chair of the council and a member of key working groups that formulated NCAA reforms designed to align practices at member institutions more closely with Division III philosophy. She has also served on the association-wide Executive Committee, as well as the Championships and Budget committees. Suzanne is also active in enhancing educational development opportunities for student-athletes at the regional and national level. In 1999, she was named a Sports Ethics Fellow with the Institute for International Sport and received the Institute’s Frank W. Keaney Award in 2002, “in recognition of commitment to the scholar-athlete ideal.” She was also honored as the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators Division III National Administrator of the Year in 2001–02. In 2005, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics selected Suzanne as its Northeast Region Athletics Director of the Year. She went on to serve a stint as interim vice president of the Institute for International Sport, where she also was commissioner of the 2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games.

Suzanne now serves as the Director of Physical Education and Athletics & Department Chair at Amherst College.

For her passion for academics, the arts and athletics, her devotion to melding all three into more rounded educational experiences and her leadership at local and national levels, we are honored to welcome Suzanne R. Coffey into the Bates Scholar-Athlete Society.