FAIRBANKS - A yearlong search for an athletic director at the University of Alaska Fairbanks finally came to fruition on Wednesday.
Jake Poole, special assistant to the chancellor for athletics, announced Wednesday that Dr. Corene Schwartz has been hired as the next director of athletics at UAF. Schwartz, who is an associate athletic director at the University of Evansville in Indiana, will become the first woman to head up the UAF athletic department when she takes over in mid-January.
"We are pleased that a person of Dr. Schwartz's caliber applied for this position and look forward to working with her as our new athletic director," Poole said in a five-paragraph press release issued by UAF University Relations announcing the decision.
"The only tough part of the decision was that it's a great distance from here," Schwartz said in a telephone interview from her home in Indiana Wednesday evening.
"Professionally, it's a great opportunity and a great fit," she added. "It's an opportunity to be involved with Division I and Division II programs that compete at a national level and to work with a hardworking coaching staff, which is something that can't be overlooked."
Prior to her stint at Evansville, Schwartz served as director of student-athlete academic and support services at Colorado State University and as athletic academic counselor at the University of Wyoming.
Schwartz received her master's degree in physical education from the University of North Dakota and her doctorate in adult, community and higher education from Montana State University.
"I have experience in a variety of areas that will help the program move forward," Schwartz said. "We're right on the cutting edge of growing and I'm looking forward to making that happen."
Schwartz, who had an on-campus interview for the position Oct. 23-24, said she appreciated the university's interview process and the time it took to make a decision.
"It was a rigorous interview process and everybody went out of their way to make sure that this was a good fit for the university and myself," she said. "I was impressed with the interest that was shown from the chancellor, the community and everyone involved in the process."
The UAF coaches who could be reached on Wednesday said they were glad to know they finally had a full-time boss.
"I'm happy that we're moving forward," said hockey coach Guy Gadowsky, whose team hosts Notre Dame in a two-game Central Collegiate Hockey Association series today and Saturday. "It's been a long process and it's good that we got the right person in there.
"A lot of people put a lot of time and energy into the process and I'm very excited about the choice and I'm happy to see us moving forward again," Gadowsky added.
UAF endurance coach Bill McDonnell said that Schwartz was the most enthusiastic and prepared of the six candidates that were interviewed.
"I know she's going to give it her best effort," McDonnell said. "We've got a good product to work with and now we'll have to see how it can be marketed and what kind of dollars can be raised."
Volleyball coach Phil Shoemaker said he was glad that the process finally has come to an end.
"I am pleased, optimistic and kind of relieved," he said. "Everything is positive and I'm certainly looking forward to having an official athletic director. Jake has done an amazing job, but it will be nice to have someone here in the building on a daily basis."
Shoemaker said he was impressed with Schwartz's experience.
"She's a pro," he said. "She's been in responsible positions in athletics for a long time and will bring a really strong and solid dimension to our department."
Men's basketball coach Al Sokaitis said that Schwartz will provide the extra boost the athletic department needs to step up to the next level.
"Jake has created a great atmosphere and got the ship going in the right direction. Now we have someone to come in and add a little steam to that," Sokaitis said. "She brings things to the table that we really need right now."