Chris Kenny ’86 named new director of athletics
After a nationwide search, Saint Michael’s College President John J. Neuhauser announced on Friday that long-time Department of Athletics administrator Chris Kenny ’86 M’98 has been appointed the College’s next director of athletics, effective on July 1, upon current Director of Athletics Geri Knortz’s retirement after 18 years.
“We all know Chris as a loyal and faithful employee of long standing, but what impressed me in this search process was his command of the strategic issues facing the College as well as his carefully developed approaches to developing solutions,” said Neuhauser. “I am happy that Chris will bring his wide-ranging knowledge of this College and its people to an ambitious agenda which keeps student-athletes at the center of intercollegiate athletics here while simultaneously improving the athletic experience for students.”
Kenny, who is in his 28th year as an employee of Saint Michael’s, has worn many hats during his nearly three decades with the institution. He has held the role of senior associate director of athletics for a little less than a year after spending 11 years as the associate director of athletics, which followed five as the assistant director of athletics. Since 2003, Kenny’s responsibilities have been comprehensive, including the management of the department’s NCAA compliance, public relations, marketing and promotions, and institutional advancement efforts while also serving as a program administrator for seven varsity sports. He has been the department’s liaison to numerous campus constituents during that time.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to President Jack Neuhauser, Vice President Dawn Ellinwood and the search committee for selecting me for this exciting opportunity at Saint Michael’s,” said Kenny. “I am truly honored to assume this role at this remarkable mission-driven institution, where athletics plays an integral part in the holistic education of our students.”
Kenny ascends to the head of the Department of Athletics at a time when more than 20 percent of the College’s 2,000-plus undergraduates are student-athletes, as Saint Michael’s offers 21 NCAA Division II varsity sports. The College has been among the top four in Division II Academic Success Rate (ASR) each of the last seven cycles, including at least tying for first place in the 15-school Northeast-10 Conference the last six years, while many programs have also displayed success in the athletic arena. Alpine skiing sent a competitor to six of the last seven NCAA Championships, women’s cross country was represented at the past two NCAA Championships, and men’s ice hockey finished as the NE-10 Championship runner-up the last two years. Men’s basketball advanced to its first NE-10 tournament semifinal in 14 seasons this winter, while women’s tennis ran its postseason streak to 16 years. Both swimming & diving squads put together historic finishes at their regional championship in 2014-15.
Kenny began his career at Saint Michael’s as the sports information director in 1987, after working briefly in community/public relations for the Vermont Reds and Reading (Pa.) Phillies Double-A Eastern League baseball teams. In 1996, he was appointed as the College’s director of athletic external affairs, a position he held for two years until Knortz was hired, and he moved from the department of Institutional Advancement to Athletics to join her administrative team.
A well-known face around campus and among alumni, Kenny is a member of several committees, both on campus and in the outer realm of college athletics. A former member of the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer National Committee and men’s soccer and men’s tennis regional advisory committees, he is a member of the NE-10’s Committee on Sports Administration.
Kenny has been an active volunteer in and outside the Burlington community, with organizations such as Make-A-Wish Vermont; Camp Ta-Kum-Ta, a residential summer camp for children with cancer; and The Barton Center for Diabetes Education. He has served as the director of the Robert J. Kenny Memorial Golf Tournament, a fundraising event that has endowed camping scholarships at the Clara Barton Camp for girls and Camp Joslin for boys with diabetes since 1994. Formerly a member of the board of directors for Camp Ta-Kum-Ta and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Champlain and PILOT leadership development programs, Kenny joined the board of directors for the C. Douglas Cairns Recreation Arena in 2014.An undergraduate product of Saint Michael’s, Kenny earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1986, and a Master of Science degree in administration at the College in 1998. A native of Greenfield, Mass., Kenny lives nearby in Essex Junction with his wife, Lisa, and daughters Jillian – a member of the Saint Michael’s Class of 2018 – and Molly. He will become only the fourth director of athletics at Saint Michael’s since just after the end of World War II, joining George “Doc” Jacobs (1947-68), Edward P. Markey ’51 (1968-97) and Knortz (1997-2015). Kenny is the first alumnus to assume the post since Markey nearly half a century ago.