The University Record, September 3, 1997

Roberson retiring after 31 years with U

Roberson


By Jane R. Elgass

Athletic Director M. Joseph (Joe) Roberson announced in August that he plans to retire after 31 years of service to the University as soon as a successor can be appointed. President Lee C. Bollinger has indicated he will announce information about the post Sept. 8.

When appointed athletic director in 1994, Roberson was given three mandates:

 

Prepare the department for certification by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. (See accompanying article.)

 

Bring the department into gender equity, in compliance with Title IX.

 

Prepare senior and junior staff for career advancement possibilities by providing professional development opportunities.

Keith E. Molin, senior associate director of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, notes that Roberson has "gone three-for-three" in addressing the mandates.

Proportionality, used by the U-M and one of the endorsed methods of reaching gender equity, means that gender distribution in sports programs must reflect the undergraduate student body. "We have a 52 percent male/48 percent female split in the student body," Molin says. "At the end of the 1996-97 year, we were at 57 percent/43 percent in the sports programs. Since we're allowed 5 percent leeway, we are at equity according to Title IX. At the start of this year, we are almost at total proportionality with all of our 23 varsity sports."

Molin says a number of staff members took advantage of the professional development opportunities and have been appointed to positions at other institutions and have advanced at the U-M. These include a student-athlete mentor who is director of athletics at Albany State University in Georgia, and two former interns who are compliance coordinators at Wake Forest and University of Southern California.

Molin notes that the opportunities for advancement Roberson made available "mirror his career at the U-M," which saw him "appointed to three critical, major leadership positions at critical times."

Roberson was named interim chancellor at U-M-Flint following the death of Connie Nelson, while the campus was in the midst of a capital campaign.

He was appointed executive director of the $1 billion Campaign for Michigan by former president James J. Duderstadt, with the admonition that the University "will be required to do every year for five years what it has just done over a five-year period," Molin explains. The U-M had just completed a $200 million capital campaign.

Roberson was then appointed athletic director at a "time of great volatility and has seen the department through very testing times."

"He has repeatedly been called into battle when the stakes were high, the risks high, and met the challenges," Molin says. "Joe Roberson has set a very high standard throughout his career," said Walter Harrison, vice president for University relations. "Whenever the University has needed him, he has answered the call. He doesn't seek thanks or recognition. He only seeks to serve."

Harrison indicated that a more formal statement will be forthcoming from President Bollinger on Sept. 8.