Donation prompts gender equity issues

Kristin Gustafson

Rochester, Minn. — Regents approved Thursday a $540,000 state-of-the-art Hall of Fame designed for the men’s football program with a promise of an equitable investment for women’s athletics by February.
University administrators analyzed the gender equity of the system before approving the new additions to the entrance of the Gibson-Nagurski football complex. Displays, murals, lighting and a push-button audio-video system are part of $2.3 million in improvements.
The project was funded by donations and gifts designated for men’s intercollegiate athletics. However, University President Mark Yudof has said he is committed to making the University a leader in gender equity for athletics.
“When the president says this is how it works, it has an amazing impact,” said Chris Voelz, women’s athletics director.
Voelz and Mark Dienhart, men’s athletics director, analyzed the project before forwarding it to administrators.
“This is the first time we did the drill,” Voelz said. “I think it is a wonderful way for the University to allow growth on both sides.”
However, women will have to wait until February for a recruitment tool to match the men’s hall of fame.
McKinley Boston, vice president for student athletics and development, said women currently have no recruiting tool comparable to the hall of fame. He said the University plans to hire a consultant to evaluate the building and make things equitable by February.
“We could not have identified a more complicated project to pilot our gender-equity impact process,” Boston said.
Maureen Reed, regent vice chairwoman, said the delay did not concern her as long as gender equity requirements were met.
“I don’t need every detail hammered out in advance … What I care about is that it all comes out right in the end,” Reed said. “We want to meet Title IX and do right by all our athletes.”
Voelz has some ideas for how similar money could be spent on women. For instance, she suggested adding a new entrance to the Bierman Athletic Building that says: “Women are important here.”
“From now until February is not long,” Voelz said. “I’ve waited 20 years.”

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.

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