Following a national search, on January 6, 2017, Plymouth State University selected Kim Bownes as its new athletic director. She is the university’s 11th athletic director and the first woman to be selected for the position since it was established in 1950.
“Kim’s long history of serving Plymouth State through her teaching, coaching and administration make her the ideal candidate to lead Athletics moving forward,” said Donald L. Birx, president, Plymouth State University. “Athletics is an important part of the student experience at Plymouth State, and I look forward to seeing our student-athletes continue to excel both academically and athletically under her direction.”
“I could not be more excited to lead Plymouth State Athletics into the future and continue to ensure that our student-athletes have the best experience possible,” Bownes said.
Student success has always been top priority for Bownes, who earned her bachelor degree in education from McGill University in Montreal in 1982 and her master of education degree with a concentration in athletic administration from Plymouth State in 2007.
Years before the university announced its transformation from a traditional academic model to an integrated clusters model that emphasizes learning, research and service to the community, Bownes was exploring these areas as a teaching lecturer in health and human performance. She and her students collaborated with exercise science and physiology students and faculty to conduct in-depth testing with members of the Plymouth State ski team. This early cluster project provided the students with an innovative learning opportunity that had real-world application, as the test results were used to enhance the skiers’ training.
“Athletics has a long history of collaborating with other departments on campus,” said Bownes, citing past collaborations with the athletic training program and the meteorology program as examples. “Moving forward, we are working on cluster projects with the English department and the local television station, Pemi Baker TV.”
Bownes began her career at Plymouth State in 1987, when she was named head men’s and women’s alpine ski coach. Under her leadership the Panther ski teams won numerous Eastern Regional Championships and qualified for the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships 20 of the 21 years she served as coach. Her coaching philosophy, which focused on building life skills such as good sportsmanship and perseverance, earned her such prestigious awards as the Eastern Collegiate Ski Conference MacConnell Division Coach of the Year Award and the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Walter A. Smith Award.
In 2008, Bownes was selected as associate director of athletics and subsequently resigned from coaching at the end of the 2008 season. In 2015, she was named interim athletic director following John P. Clark , who stepped down after nearly 20 years as athletic director to serve as founding manager of the Active Living, Learning and Wellness (ALLWell) North facility. As interim athletic director, Bownes led the department through many initiatives at both the institutional and departmental levels.
In recognition of her dedication and outstanding service to PSU, Bownes was honored with the 2016 Distinguished Professional, Technical and Administrative (DPAT) Staff Award. The award is given annually to a PAT staff member who contributes to the University above and beyond the scope of his or her job responsibilities. Bownes, who was among nearly 200 PATstaff members eligible for the award, was nominated by her peers from across the university and selected by a committee that included previous DPAT award winners and the PSU student body president.
President Birx praised Bownes for her commitment to serving Plymouth State and its students. “Kim truly embodies our motto Ut prosim (That I may serve),” he said. “She does what it takes to make PSU the unique and great place it is for our students.”