In an Intercom announcement March 29, President Tom Rochon made public the appointment of professor Barbara Belyea ’82 as Ithaca College’s next faculty athletics representative.
Belyea, who has been a faculty member in the Department of Physical Therapy at the college for 25 years, will replace Wenmouth Williams, chair of the Department of Journalism and professor of media arts, sciences and studies, who is retiring at the end of the academic year.
Michael Buck, clinical associate professor in the physical therapy department, wrote a letter to the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics to nominate Belyea. After meeting with Susan Bassett, director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports, Belyea was entered in an open nomination, where any faculty member could be nominated for the position. After the nomination process closed March 14, the Office of the Provost and Rochon selected Beleya as the most fitting of three candidates to replace Williams beginning June 1.
Belyea has been actively involved in the college’s varsity athletic programs, as her son, Cooper Belyea, is a junior at the college and a catcher for the baseball team. She has also taught several student-athletes in the physical therapy department.
Sports Editor Steve Derderian sat down with Belyea on March 31 to discuss her interest in the position, the role of a representative and her plans to increase her presence for student-athletes around campus.
Steve Derderian: What was your initial reaction to the position as a representative when you saw there was an opening?
Barbara Belyea: I was excited to think about taking on the responsibility and the role. I know Wenmouth, and I frequent a lot of the athletic events on campus and always saw him at events. I always thought that would be something I would be interested in doing when he left that position, so I could serve the college in an area of real interest to me.
SD: How much does your background or experience with athletics help you with this position?
BB: I’m an alumna of the college, both my kids are or will be alumni and my father was a Division III college coach for 40 years. My faculty nominee, Mike Buck, spoke about my family background of athletics being an important part. They were all Division III, so they were working with student-athletes with an emphasis on student first. I’ve also had a lot of service roles where I’ve been a campus representative and not just a [physical therapy] department or [Health Sciences and Human Performance] representative. I think in this role that’s really important, to be a faculty person that can represent the entire college and not just a department or school.
SD: In your opinion, what is the most important thing you can do as the faculty athletic representative at the college?
BB: My most important role is to be a liaison between faculty and the athletic program. I want to give people a face that they can come to and be an advocate for both perspectives.
SD: Have you done anything already that shows you can fit that role?
BB: I know most of the coaches. Some of that is through my kids, and most of that is through prospective students who want to come to Ithaca College [for physical therapy]. A lot of the coaches will seek me out to see if I’ll meet with them, so I have a pretty good understanding of the Division III student-athlete experience. That helps because I think most coaches know of me if they don’t know me.
SD: What is the message you convey to prospective student-athletes that meet with you?
BB: I give them a pretty strong message that it’s doable to be successful in the classroom and athletic fields. I think a lot of students and parents are surprised at how many students can manage both at the same time.
SD: How do you plan to branch out beyond the physical therapy department?
BB: I think continuing working with the coaches will help. It’s my understanding that I’m a person students may come to when there’s a problem with either school or athletic policy. I’ll make sure all coaches know who I am and where I am so they can pass that information to their students. I know Wenmouth has been very successful getting our students nominated for awards like NCAA post-graduate and graduate scholarships. I need to pay attention on both ends. If a student is struggling, I need to get them the services they need to be academically successful. If a student is excelling, I need to get them nominated for recognitions.
SD: What is your first goal when you begin your position in June?
BB: I want to work together with Susan Bassett and Mike Lindberg [associate director of intercollegiate athletics] during the summer to clarify my role and start to network with other [faculty athletic representatives] to see what issues they’re dealing with so I’m up to speed with what might come down the road for me.