WOOSTER, Ohio. – The College of Wooster honored several of its distinguished alumni in June and former Mount Holyoke College director of athletics Laurie Priest was recognized. A 1977 graduate from Wooster, she was awarded the college's highest alumni honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award.
The award is given to those who exemplify Wooster's dedication to excellence and commitment to service, and who have distinguished themselves in one or more aspects of their professional lives, service to humanity, or service to Wooster.
Priest, who served as the Chair of Physical Education and Director of Athletics from 1989 until 2012, remains a senior lecturer in the Department of Physical Education at Mount Holyoke. She has been a tireless advocate for equality in sport for girls and women and has been recognized nationally for her work to promote and support Title IX.
In recent years, she focused much of her outside professional work towards combating homophobia in intercollegiate athletics. She served as Chair of the Social Justice Committee of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). Additionally, she has often spoken on the importance of addressing social justice issues in sport.
Over her career, Priest has given the majority of her time to committees that involve women. She served as President of the National Association for Girls and Women (NAGWS) in Sport in 1989-90 and has consistently donated her time and energy to accomplished committees, including the NCAA Women's Committee on Committees (1991-94), the Executive Council of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (1993-96), the Executive Board of the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) (1996-2000) and the Board of Governors for AAHPERD (1999-2002).
Priest has published many articles and is a frequent presenter at conferences. She has received several awards for her contributions to women's athletics. In 1991, she received the Mabel Lee award from AAHPERD, and in 1992, she was inducted into the Northeast New Agenda Hall of Fame. In 1997, Priest was awarded the Massachusetts Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Merit Award for outstanding leadership.
Priest was named the 2002 Woman of the Year for Division III athletics by NACWAA and was recognized by the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport as their Honor Award recipient that same year. In 2007, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute for International Sport. Two years later, she was selected by the Massachusetts Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance as its Pathfinder Award winner.
Priest received her Bachelor of Science in physical education from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and her Master of Science Degree in exercise physiology from the University of Maryland-College Park. Prior to her service to Mount Holyoke, Priest served for seven years as Director of Athletics, Assistant Professor and Swim Coach at Marymount University (Va.).