President Barry Mills and Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster announced Tuesday afternoon that after a nationwide search, Tim Ryan ’98, who has been serving as interim director this academic year, is the College’s new Ashmead White Director of Athletics.

In an email to the Bowdoin community, Mills wrote, “this is a complex job with many constituencies. In the last nine months, Tim has demonstrated his deep knowledge of the program, his commitment to maintaining the proper balance between academics and athletics, and his skill as a manager and leader.”

Ryan assumes the post formerly held by Jeff Ward, who retired to start his own sports consultation firm last year.

After leaving a lucrative job in the investment banking industry to come back to Bowdoin as an assistant football coach in 2005, Ryan moved up the ranks of the athletics department quickly and was asked to serve as interim director after Ward unexpectedly announced his retirement at the end of last year.

According to the email, Ryan was chosen out of a large pool of candidates identified and reviewed by a national athletics search consultant firm, Alden & Associates, in addition to Bowdoin’s internal search committee.  

The College’s search committee was led by Foster and included two student athletes, juniors Michael English and Molly Popolizio. The committee was also made up of coaches from the athletics department, directors of other College offices, three trustees and two Bowdoin professors. The 12-person team was composed of five males and seven females.

Applications for the position of Bowdoin’s director of athletics became available after the first of the year, according to Ryan, who said he applied just like any of the other candidates for the position. Because he was in charge of running the department while applying for the permanent position as its director, he had to take his job into perspective.

“I was given some advice early in the process: ‘Just because you have an interim title, doesn’t mean it has to be an interim year,’” Ryan said. “I think that helped me have a nice perspective going through the year. If I wasn’t fortunate enough to be chosen as the person to lead the department forward, I just wanted to make sure it was left in as good of a position as possible for the next person.”

After making it through the initial application process and completing an interview in Portland, Ryan and one other finalist were invited to interview with the search committee on campus last week.

English, one of the student athletes on the committee, said that getting to be a part of the College’s search for an athletic director was a great opportunity for him as a student athlete.

“I thought it was just going to be a few casual interviews, and I didn’t think I was going to have a very big role,” said English. “Being a student, I knew that my input would be valued but I wasn’t sure of how much it would be let in, in terms of the whole behind-closed-doors interactions of the whole interview process.”

But after the proceedings began, English and the Popolizio found that their perspectives were actively considered along with other members of the committee, according to English,

The search committee met for the last time to discuss their recommendations with Mills on Monday, and the decision was made final sometime between then and Tuesday afternoon. Mills and Foster notified Ryan in person on Tuesday before they emailed the College.

Ryan’s schedule is so busy that he hasn’t had much time to stop and consider what he has accomplished. In the past week alone, Ryan has prepared the community for both the men’s and women’s hockey NESCAC tournaments, has overseen the start of the spring sports season, and was involved in bringing Fearless, a project highlighting LGBTIQ athletes in collegiate athletics, to Bowdoin.

“I’m not sure it’s completely set in,” said Ryan. “It’s been a great process. It may set in in a week or two, but we’ve been fortunate that we’ve had a lot of things going on in the department over the last week or so.”

Looking to the future, Ryan said he wants the department to “make sure to just hold true to what we believe in on campus.”

Ryan also said that he wants to attract “highly motivated and talented students who have a proper perspective about their athletic experience in the context of a rigorous academic program,” and ensure that “we do all that we can to make sure that those students have a great experience while they’re here.”

Ryan has received an outpouring of support from the Bowdoin community, which he says has helped make the whole process worthwhile.

“It’s been really nice to hear from a lot of people that I’ve worked with on campus, as well as friends of mine that I went to school with who I may not have heard from in a while,” said Ryan. “It’s helped to put into perspective just how important of a role this position is for the institution. It’s been great to hear from a lot of people who I respect and were mentors to me throughout my career.”

Shortly after he received the news from Mills and Foster, Ryan had a conversation with Ward, who no longer works for the College but is still an active member of the Bowdoin community and frequently seen around campus.

 “He’s someone who I’ll always count as a friend and mentor,” said Ryan.