In Memoriam: Mary Jean Mulvaney, 1927-2019

Mary Jean Mulvaney, professor emerita and former director of athletics at the University of Chicago, died late last month. She was 92 years old.

Mulvaney joined the university staff in 1966 to chair the women’s physical education division. She became the director of a consolidated men’s and women’s athletic department in 1976. Mulvaney retired in 1990 as director of athletics and professor of physical education. During her tenure, the University increased its women’s sports offerings from two to nine.

“Mary Jean will live on in all of the Maroons that felt her generous spirit and knew her genuine kindness,” said Erin McDermott, the university’s director of athletics & recreation. “A true pioneer, she helped pave the way for women leaders in college athletics through her courage and compassion.”

Mulvaney was inducted into the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003. In addition, the university honored her with the Mary Jean Mulvaney Scholar-Athlete Award, given annually since 1990 to a male and female senior athlete with the highest grade point average.

A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Mulvaney earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska in 1948, and her master’s degree from Wellesley College in 1951. Prior to her tenure at the University of Chicago, Mulvaney taught at Kansas State University, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Kansas.

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