In Memoriam: Wanda Ruth Hammack Alexander, 1938-2021

Ruth Alexander, who was an instrumental figure in the establishment of women’s sports at the University of Florida, died late last month in Gainesville, Florida. She was 83 years old.

A native of Paint Lick, Kentucky, she was raised on a farm by her father after her mother died when Alexander was 2 years old. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Milligan College in Johnson City, Tennessee, and later earned a master’s degree at the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Indiana.

Dr. Alexander joined the faculty at the Univerity of Florida in 1969 as the chair for the department of physical education for women. She petitioned the president of the university to establish women’s intercollegiate sports. She was successful. The initial budget of $16,000 covered five sport for women: tennis, golf, swimming, track, and gymnastics. After the passage of Title IX, in 1974, the budget for the women’s intercollegiate sports program grew to $65,000, later rising to over $5 million annually in the 1990s.

Dr. Alexander was promoted to full professor in 1976. When she retired as women’s athletic coordinator in 1981 to devote her full time to teaching and research, the program had grown to eight sports, and the swimming team had won the national championship.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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