Colorado Mesa University makes history with the hiring of a new athletic director
One day in June, Kimberly Miller picked up her ringing phone to hear the voice of University of Colorado Mesa President John Marshall on the other end. He was calling her to offer her a position as the school’s athletic director, a position she had interviewed for a few days before.
She was so thrilled to have achieved her life’s goal that she couldn’t respond right away.
“I said, ‘Hey, uh, let me think about it and call you back,'” Miller recalled. ‘Oh my God!'”
It was also a victory for the school.
“Dr. Miller is the person we were looking for,” Marshall said in a statement. “She is smart, experienced and driven, and we are thrilled to have someone of her caliber to carry on the winning tradition and great culture. of CMU.”
Miller, who is black, is the first woman of color to be hired as the athletic director of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, a 16-school organization spanning from Utah and New Mexico to South Dakota.
But the pioneering nature of her hiring is secondary to Miller, 44, who is simply happy to have found what she considers a dream job.
“I mean, it’s always a privilege and an honor. However, I consider him the right person for the job,” Miller said. “Mesa is just a place that embraces everyone, regardless of background, ethnic differences, and I’m just happy to be a part of Colorado Mesa.”
Sports lover since childhood
The native of Waxhaw, North Carolina played softball from the age of seven. So enamored with the idea of becoming an athletic director one day after playing college softball, she earned a doctorate in education with a major in sports management from North Central University.
A few weeks ago, she moved to Grand Junction from South Dakota, where she was assistant athletic director, director of compliance and senior administrator at Augustana University in Sioux Falls.
Staying in a furnished house on campus until her belongings arrive from a transiting moving truck, she spoke in a phone interview this week, describing her duties and her enthusiasm for her new role.
Since the beginning of the month, she has been guided by colleagues on all things CMU sports, taken professional photos and started to learn about the school’s 26 NCAA Division II programs, two varsity programs and more. of 700 student-athletes.
As athletic director, she will oversee all coaches and teams, conduct fundraising, establish policies and procedures, keep CMU in line with gender equity practices, and hire coaches for a few vacancies.
“Just basically this go-to person for the whole department,” she said.
She will also travel to big games with the teams, as she did in her previous role.
“You can’t take a leadership role and not compete with your teams and support them,” she said. “I will very much enjoy and enjoy watching our student-athletes compete.”
Create a house in Grand Junction
Outside of work, she looks forward to making a home in Grand Junction, which reminds her of her home in North Carolina, a town with a red light and a train track, she said.
“I love the scenery,” she says. “It’s just beautiful here. You see mountain ranges; you see wildlife; you just see a large community of people who care about a university.
She said her new surroundings offer everything she hoped for.
“The best thing about being in Grand Junction is that I can come into town and enjoy shopping, restaurants and fun activities,” Miller said. “But if I go a few miles from Grand Junction, I’m back in the country I grew up in, so it’s the best of both worlds.”
At the start of her work, she said that she had no particular project to dive into, as she wanted to learn her role first. At the same time, she said, she wants to get back to her own game of softball after not playing since before the pandemic.
“I tried to play softball a few days ago with our alumni team, and it didn’t go so well because I haven’t played in four years,” the girl said with a laugh. self-proclaimed “big ball of energy”. “So my goal now is to find a team here and start recreationally and go from there.”