Director of Athletics

October 17, 2019

Dear members of the FAS community,

I write to announce that Robert L. Scalise, John D. Nichols ’53 Family Director of Athletics, will retire at the end of this academic year.For nearly two decades, Bob Scalise has embodied the Department’s mission of education through athletics and building community and pride in Harvard. Whether you are a varsity athlete, a participant in an intramural club sport, or someone like me who just takes a break from work to let off steam on the treadmill, Bob’s thoughtful leadership has touched your life and helped to shape your Harvard experience.
Appointed in 2001, Bob has overseen an era of tremendous success for Harvard’s Department of Athletics, which is the nation's largest Division I athletics program. The seventh person to hold the position, Bob leads an organization made up of 42 varsity sports, a myriad of club and intramural programs, more than 1,200 intercollegiate athletes and a broad array of wellness and recreation programs and facilities.

In 18 years as athletics director, Bob has seen Harvard win 22 national team championships and 144 Ivy League titles, including a school-record 14 conference crowns in both the 2004-05 and 2013-14 seasons. During Bob’s tenure, Harvard has claimed at least a share of the Ivy League football title eight times, most recently in 2015. In the 17 editions of "The Game" under his leadership, Harvard has beaten archrival Yale 14 times, including nine consecutive wins from 2007-15. In 2018, the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame awarded him the NFF John L. Toner Award, an honor he shared that year with Yale University Director of Athletics Thomas Beckett in honor of the historic rivalry between the two institutions.

But Bob’s legacy is about much more than winning. He has been a leading voice in national discussions of the student athlete experience. Bob served as a member of the inaugural NCAA Division I Council, a high-level group responsible for the day-to-day decision-making for Division I. He was chair of the NCAA Student-Athlete Experience Committee, and worked as a member of the NCAA lacrosse rules committee. On campus, he has led Department-wide discussions of culture, enhanced training opportunities for students and staff, and successfully advocated for expanded mental health support for athletes. Under his leadership, Athletics has expanded opportunities for female athletes, most recently through the addition of the women’s rugby team. He has encouraged public service among student-athletes through Crimson Cares, has led efforts to enhance the facilities where athletes practice and compete, and has helped to make the campus greener with the installation of solar panels on the Gordon Indoor Track and Tennis building.
I have been enormously grateful for my time working with Bob over the past year. I quickly came to appreciate his depth of knowledge and unparalleled commitment to Ivy League athletics. As a member of the advisory committee for the recently launched study of the Department, his advice and guidance have been invaluable as we reengage our Ivy League principles for the next 100 years and for generations of student-athletes to come. A national search will begin soon to identify Bob’s successor, and Bob has agreed to serve until the next athletics director has begun their appointment. He has also generously agreed to continue to serve as an advisor to me on athletics through academic year 2020-21.
Please join me in thanking Bob for his singular service to Harvard and to the generation of student-athletes whose lives have been shaped by his leadership.
Claudine Gay
Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences