Stifel steps up: President Byerly appoints new Faculty Athletics Representative

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Rachel Robertson

After 11 years on the job, professor Susan Averett is stepping down from her post as the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR). Replacing her will be fellow economics professor and athletics faculty mentor David Stifel at the appointment of President Alison Byerly.

“David combines a lot of administrative experience on the faculty, he’s been on many faculty committees,” Byerly said. “With support for athletics, he’s been a mentor to several student athlete teams and he’s someone who, like many faculty, really value all aspects of the student experience. I was delighted that he was willing to take on that role and I’m confident that he will do a terrific job.”

The job of the FAR is a multifaceted one. Within the school, the FAR acts as a liaison between the faculty and the athletics department and provides an additional resource to student-athletes, while overseeing eligibility and compliance. Stifel will also function as the Patriot League Policy Committee Representative and as the school’s representative to the NCAA.

As the FAR, Stifel reports to the president, and his role also allows him to maintain special relationships with the faculty, student-athletes, coaches and athletic department.

“David Stifel is no stranger to the athletics department, our student athletics and programs as he’s served as a faculty mentor for a number of years,” Director of Athletics Bruce McCutcheon said. “There will certainly be a learning curve in the role as FAR and Policy Committee representative, but he’s well-suited in what the needs and experiences of our student athletes are. It was a tremendous choice by the President to name him to that position.”

Stifel said that there is a lot for him to learn, especially in preparing to his Patriot League and NCAA roles.

“There is a learning curve,” Stifel said. “I go into it understanding the values of the college and those values will shape the way I represent the college at these meetings.”

In addition to responsibilities dictated by the position, each FAR brings his or her own focuses and initiatives to the table. For Averett, ensuring that every athletic team had an active faculty mentor was an important development during her stint as FAR.

Stifel echoes the significance of that program, saying that he doesn’t think he would know the department well enough to be FAR had he not been a faculty mentor first. He also said he hopes to have more female faculty members involved in the mentoring program.

First a mentor to the softball team, Stifel is the current faculty mentor to the women’s soccer team, a relationship he intends to continue even as he assumes the role of FAR.

“I’m flattered that I was asked to be honest,” Stifel said. “I have great respect for the coaches, and for Bruce [McCutcheon] and for [Senior Associate Director of Athletics] Kaity [McKittrick] and their staff… I’m excited to get to know folks in the department, getting to know the other coaches.”

Averett plans to also continue to be the faculty mentor to the football team, a position that predates her appointment to FAR by former college president Arthur Rothkopf.

While there are parts of the job that Averett says she won’t miss, like acting as a mediator between faculty and coaches during conflicts, she will miss working closely with many of the staff in the athletic department.

“I know I’ll see them and I’ve built relationships, but working with the staff, with Bruce [McCutcheon] and Kaity [McKittrick] and more recently Andrew Foster,” Averett said. “They were great, and they were really welcoming. That part I will definitely miss.”