You may have seen them on the sidelines, in the stands, or heading off to meetings; but what does an athletic director really do? This summer, on each Friday, we will take you behind the desk with the heads of the athletic departments from St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference member institutions. This week's interview is with Tom Ackerman, Greenville University Athletic Director.
A long time fixture among the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference coaching ranks, Tom Ackerman added the duties of Athletic Director at Greenville University this summer. Ackerman began at Greenville in 2002 as the head coach of the Panthers women's volleyball program. Over that span, he has led the Panthers to three conference tournament titles and been named the SLIAC Coach of the Year five times.
You recently added the role of Athletic Director to your duties, why did you want to take on this responsibility?
"While this position was not something that I initially pursued, it is an honor to serve the athletic department that has blessed me in so many ways. I really enjoy learning new things and tackling new challenges. This position will give me the opportunity to engage in both. I strongly believe in the mission of our institution and athletic department; I am looking forward to seeing it at work from a new perspective."
Greenville has had success recently, from volleyball to basketball to softball, can you talk about how having competitive teams makes a difference to the campus community?
"Winning is not our priority here, but winning has definitely added to the experience for our athletes and has created an exciting environment for our student-athletes to be a part of. We have so many excellent coaches and they invest a ton into our athletes on and off the court."
What are some of your goals as an Athletic Director? What do you want to accomplish as a leader in that role?
"My goal is to continue to keep our mission at the forefront of our department. We have a responsibility beyond the court or field, we want to help our athletes grow in their faith. As a leader, I see it as my job to serve the coaches in any way that I can and to find ways to help each program become as successful as possible."
Greenville also made a name change this summer, moving to a University status. What does this mean for the school?
"We are very excited about becoming a University and I think the change will separate us from the junior colleges in the area and attract more international students."
Describe Greenville to someone you just met.
"Greenville is a special place and what we do better than anyone else is provide a unique experience for our students based on relationships. Our faith-based education is alive in the classroom and in all of our athletic programs. We are excellent at transforming lives and producing quality people."