Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Thanks, Dr. Grant

 I found out last week that Dr. Christine Grant, former AD at University of Iowa and long time advocate for women's sports and women's sports leaders died at the end of December. 

There have been many stories and tributes, which I have posted links to below, but I wanted to offer my own brief remembrance. 

I never had Dr. Grant as a professor when I was at Iowa (she was retired by the time I arrived), but she invited me, when I was doing my PhD in Women's Studies, to be on the gender equity subcommittee of the NCAA accreditation team. This was back when the NCAA actually required DI schools to do a self-assessment and then sent a team to campuses to take a look for themselves. 

The gender equity subcommittee basically did a Title IX review. This is where I learned the nitty gritty of Title IX compliance--especially in regard to quality of experience (per diems, travel and accommodations, support staff, etc.). Dr. Grant was an excellent instructor to everyone on that committee, including administrators from athletics. I learned how to really look at and question and assess what is happening in athletics departments using qualitative and quantitative data. 

Just a few days before Dr. Grant's passing, the final version of my institution's Title IX self-assessment was sent to the President's office. I was on this committee as well, and I would not have been nearly as effective in my work if I had not had the experience with Dr. Grant at Iowa. I was able to pass on what I learned throughout the year-long process in committee meetings and in the final report. 

I learned something else from Dr. Grant that she conveyed in a much more subtle way and that I have taken into all of my committee work: skepticism is healthy and necessary. By watching and listening to her in her leadership roles, I realized that what people say in meetings is not necessarily reflective of how they operate in their positions and that not everyone shares the same mission when it comes to gender equity. That sounds vague, likely because I am attempting not to name names. I prefer to frame it as coming to an understanding about the nuance of gender equity work which included how to read people who are allegedly on the "same team." #multifacetedmetaphor

I didn't really keep in touch with her after I graduated, so I am not sure how she felt about all the horrible things that have happened in Iowa athletics in regard to racial, gender, and sexual orientation discrimination in the past decade. I imagine it was heartbreaking and frustrating, but I see her legacy so clearly at the center of last fall's settlement which reinstated women's swimming and diving and prompted the addition of women's wrestling. I have faith that those of us who have been influenced by her will continue to do the work to which she devoted her life. 

Article about CG's hiring of C. Vivian Stringer and growing WBB at Iowa

Mechelle Voepel's piece from

Iowa Athletics has a great collection of photos (including one with CG, Martina Navratilova, Gloria Steinem, and Billie Jean King!) and stories