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Dr. Richard D. Hill announced this week that he will step down at the end of December as director of the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation.
Dr. Hill joined MIT as athletics director in 1992. "The past eight years have been a time of great accomplishment by the department, symbolized by the groundbreaking last month for the new Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center," he said. "The department is well positioned to make even greater contributions to our students' learning and indeed to the life of our entire community."
When he came to MIT, Dr. Hill said, his goal had been "to give students the opportunity to develop their athletic capabilities to the fullest, not only in the competitive arena but also in the extent to which exercise and fitness became a part of their everyday lives. Along with that came a commitment to integrating the mission and programs of the department into the overall life and learning of our students."
He noted the progress that had been made on all fronts, including the rise in MIT's Division III ranking from 197th five years ago to 49th last year, which he characterized as "a great tribute to the talent, skill and determination of our men and women athletes and their coaches." The NCAA rankings are based on the performance of athletic teams in intercollegiate competition.
Dr. Hill called the groundbreaking for the Zesiger Center "a symbol of MIT's enhanced investment in and integration of student life and learning. Not only will we soon have one of the nation's finest health fitness facilities; we have revitalized athletics facilities throughout the campus, including playing fields, tracks, tennis courts, locker rooms, the boathouse and sailing pavilion, the weight room and more."
Other improvements have included eliminating the athletics card fee for students, expanding the hours in many of the facilities and opening a new fitness center at Lincoln Laboratory.
Commenting on Dr. Hill's contributions as athletics director, President Charles M. Vest said, "Dick Hill's commitment to bringing out the best in our student athletes and in integrating athletics more closely with our overall student support activities are hallmarks of his tenure as department head. His leadership has been essential as we have gone through difficult budgetary times and then entered an era of recommitment to student life, of which athletics, sports and fitness are critical components. We have been fortunate indeed to have Dick and Mary Hill as members of the MIT family."
Said Chancellor Lawrence Bacow, who has worked closely with Dr. Hill on the plans for the new center, "Dick has been a passionate advocate for improving athletic facilities on our campus. To donors and administrators alike, he has patiently explained how new facilities will strengthen our athletics programs, build community and contribute to the learning environment. Today we see the impact of his leadership all around us. Generations of future MIT students, faculty and staff will benefit from his good work."
Dean for Student Life Larry Benedict said he hoped to appoint a successor from within the department, with the expectation that the new athletics director would be able to take office at the beginning of IAP. He welcomed comments and suggestions from the MIT community, asking that they be sent to him by Monday, Dec. 7. Comments may be sent to Dean Benedict by e-mail to email@example.com or through campus mail to Rm 4-110.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 15, 2000.