AD Candidate Roth Makes Second Visit to Campus

Ariel Lewis, Staff Writer

As the search for a new Athletic Director continues, the Oberlin Department of Athletics and the Athletic Director Search Committee welcomed finalist William Roth, currently the associate director of Athletics in the Department of Development and Alumni Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania, back for a second visit.

Roth, who has served as an administrator at Penn for the past four years, met with interested athletics staff, faculty, students and community members at noon on Monday, April 11 to talk about his philosophy regarding athletics and to field general questions from the audience.

At Penn, Roth oversees nine Division I varsity sports, including track and field, cross country and swimming. Additionally, he headed a $112 million-dollar fundraising campaign for the university’s athletic department, and by the summer of 2010 had helped to raise $91 million toward that goal. Before landing the job at Penn, Roth worked as an assistant track and field coach at Tulane University and the University of Virginia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Medieval Studies at Swarthmore College, where he also ran track and played goalkeeper on the soccer team. He holds a Master of Arts in history from UVA.

Personal anecdotes and dry humor characterized Roth’s speech, in which he discussed the insight he has gained from years of experiences on all sides of athletics — student-athlete, coach and administrator. “Very few things between the ages of 18 and 22 are so positively designed to help individuals grow,” he said of athletics. “It can happen in a classroom — in fact, at a place like this it’s expected. But there’s an amazing experience that happens on playing fields and on courts in terms of self-discovery and pushing boundaries, connecting with others, validating your own experience. And this comes from a person who, in my track career, lost every race I ran. I lost every race I ran for four years, and I still think I had a positive experience.”

Despite Penn’s wealth of past athletic success, Ross insists he relishes the opportunity to be part of the continued improvement of a program like Oberlin.

“I actually wouldn’t want to go to a place that has it all figured out. If they have it all figured out, then what do they need you for? But you want to be around people who seem to want to figure it out, who have an investment in their program. To be able to [work] at a place that is thoughtful and that says, ‘these environments are worth making better’ is really exciting,” he said.

Roth also addressed concerns about student-athlete welfare and integrating athletics into the Oberlin community as a whole. If hired, he says he hopes to involve a number of campus partners in the process athletics at Oberlin, and to create a real trust with various administrative and student-run departments.

“I am viciously passionate about what I do,” he said in his closing remarks. “Anywhere I have gone has gotten better. Not anywhere, everywhere I have gone has gotten better as the result of my participation. I have a very fierce desire to see things go the right way. We should be creating excellence. We should be doing it with exuberance. And we should be creating a memory that shows education is involved and that extends for the 60-year relationship that your graduates will have with that program and this institution, if we’re lucky.”