University chooses Jeffrey Ward as interim Athletics director
Jeffrey Ward was recently named the University’s interim Athletics director, according to an email sent by President Liebowitz on Sept. 4, 2018.
Ward earned his bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Dartmouth College and his master’s degree in higher education from Columbia. His coaching career began in 1978 when he was appointed assistant swimming coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Ward created the women’s swimming program at Columbia University, according to a Feb. 1998 Bowdoin College statement.
In an interview with the Justice, Ward explained that after Columbia, “I was the Assistant Director [of athletics] at Brown for eight years, and then I was the Athletic Director at Bowdoin for fourteen years.” According to the same Bowdoin statement, Ward oversaw Bowdoin’s NCAA Division III program that consisted of twenty-nine intercollegiate varsity and five club teams.
In 2012, Ward chose to leave Bowdoin’s athletic department to join Asphalt Green, a nonprofit dedicated to “change lives through sports and fitness,” as the chief program officer. When asked how he came to be at Brandeis, Ward explained that President Liebowitz “and I knew each other from past jobs when he was at Middlebury and I was at Bowdoin.”
In a joint interview with the Justice and the Hoot, Liebowitz explained that it was at the New England Small College Athletics Conference (NESCAC) that he first observed Ward at work. Liebowitz said, “NESCAC … is very hands-on, so we met three times a year. Jeff was one of the Athletics directors.”
Liebowitz continued, “I watched them all, who are respected all along the way... I found [Ward] to be incredibly fair, open and honest when criticisms came to the presidents. About any issue in Athletics, he was always reasoned and reasonable.”
When asked about how his previous professional interactions with Ward might affect their current relationship, President Liebowitz replied, “There is no reporting line here, because Jeff is going to be reporting to Lisa Lynch, not to me.”
Ward describes the job of athletic director as dealing with “a lot of people going in a lot of different directions.” For example, he must “make sure the culture is correct, the values are in line with the institution” and “run the business side of the department.”
“The foundation of athletics [at Brandeis] is very strong,” Ward said. “We certainly have things to work on and some challenges, but there are very good people and, I think, so is their commitment to really making sure we provide students with what they deserve.”
“One of the first things to make sure is that it’s the right educational experience for students,” Ward continued. “In Division III athletics, sports exist for the players. We love crowds, but that’s not who we design things for.”
Ward said he will serve in this role until August 2019. According to Liebowitz, the national search will commence in the new year.
Ward believes that his “task is pretty clear. It’s to ensure that the culture in the Athletics Department is what we want it to be and to identify what we need to do for the department to provide students with what is appropriate.”