WMU AD Kathy Beauregard receives the Women of Excellence and Courage Award
KALAMAZOO, MI – Western Michigan Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard was honored this week as one of three recipients of the Michigan Women Forward 2020 Women of Achievement and Courage Award.
The longtime WMU Sports Department Head accepted the award on Wednesday during a virtual lunch, alongside fellow 2020 winners Denise Crawford, President and CEO of Family Health Center Inc., and Judy Jolliffe, philanthropist and community advocate.
Beauregard is in her 24th year as athletic director for the Broncos and has held various positions at the university for the past 38 years, including as a women’s gymnastics coach from 1980 to 1988.
A native of Kalamazoo and a former student of Loy Norrix High School, Beauregard is the longest-serving athletic director of the Mid-American Conference and one of 12 women to head the athletics departments of the 130 schools in the NCAA Football Bowl subdivision. .
Before accepting the award, several of Beauregard’s friends and colleagues spoke about the impact it has had on their lives and on the university.
“I believe Kathy empowers women by being an amazing role model, a mentor, and she’s an amazing daring too,” current UMF gymnastics coach Penny Jernigan said in a video over lunch. “She has this ability to listen and ask questions that really make you think. I felt particularly empowered by her, and I know these things meant a lot to me.
UMF President Edward Montgomery has worked with Beauregard since arriving at Kalamazoo in 2017, and he said she has raised the bar for success on and off the pitch.
“She’s done amazing things,” Montgomery said. “First, she led this program to athletic success. Second, she did so with integrity, so there were no major violations of NCAA rules. And third, she has continually opened the door for others to follow, whether in the coaching ranks, whether in the administrative ranks, or in mentoring women in other institutions. She is connected and known across the country for her success, integrity, and willingness to help uplift others as well.
During Beauregard’s time as athletic director, WMU teams won 58 MAC championships and one Central Collegiate Hockey Association title, and 35 made appearances in NCAA tournaments. The Broncos football team secured playoff spots in eight bowling games under his direction, including the 2017 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
The UMM student-athletes also excelled off the field during Beauregard’s tenure, with the Broncos claiming the MAC Institutional Academic Achievement Award showing the highest conference GPA in 2019-20 and 2016-17.
Beauregard has also been recognized with individual accolades, including a spot on Street and Smith’s “Game Changer: Women in Sports Business” list, the Gerald R. Ford Sportsman of the Year Award from the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the National Association of College Directors FBS Athletic Director of the Year for Central Athletics Region.
During her acceptance speech, Beauregard spoke about the journey of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and how she felt a connection in breaking down her own barriers to reach her place at the top of the sports department of the WMU.
“As I was really thinking about the sad news we had last week with the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, it started to remind me of her documentaries, and it led me to one of her comments, which is kind of like my life. was, ”said Beauregard. “I started as a coach, I got into administration, I had the opportunity to be one of the first women to do this – there were only seven in the time. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now, and in fact there are only 12 women leading athletics at institutions our size and obviously we still have a lot of work to do.
“When I heard her talk about the fact that when she was out of college and obviously much more qualified than a lot of men at the time, she talked about Sandra Day O’Connor, and how they were both top of their class and I should have had every opportunity in the world to advance in the legal world and had to find other ways to do it.
“I don’t feel like I’m at the Supreme Court, in any case, but this path has been very different,” added Beauregard. “I didn’t grow up thinking I could be an athletics director. There weren’t any women there, and I really didn’t know what it was, so the opportunities and the doors that open for me and the opportunities for all the women in the past that made this possible. , I am eternally grateful to them. “
In recent years, Beauregard has opened the door for women in the UMF’s sports department by hiring a woman as the head coach of the football team and women as the last two sports information directors of the UMF. football team.
“We must continue to fight for fairness,” she said. “Fairness is a priority that needs to be pursued, that needs to be pursued, that needs passion, and we need to keep our doors open and make sure we’re making a difference all around us.