University of Minnesota Alumni Association


How Do We Get to Equity?

Before Chris Voelz took the job as the UMN women's athletic director in 1988, she made it clear that she would only take the job if it focused on gender equity in the athletics department.

Chris Voelz, left, with former U of M Regent Peggy Lucas.
Photo courtesy Gopher Athletics

Before Chris Voelz took the job as women’s athletic director at the U of M-Twin Cities in 1988, she wanted it understood that she would only take the job if administrators agreed that her work would focus on the questions “How do we get to gender equity in the athletic department, and when will we get to it?”

From the outset of her 15-year tenure at the U of M—the longest of any women’s athletic director—Voelz worked hard to fight the perception that resources acquired by women’s programs would be resources subtracted from the men’s department. “Title IX was never supposed to pit one gender against the other,” she says. “It was about equitable distribution. It was sometimes hard to drill that into the heads of certain people in the community.”

Voelz led a remarkable expansion of women’s sports at the U of M through the ’90s and into the new millennium. Women’s soccer became a varsity sport and the women’s hockey program was created; both would soon vie for conference and NCAA championships. A women’s rowing team was also created during Voelz’s tenure, and new facilities were created for softball, tennis, swimming, and women’s hockey.

—Tim Brady

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