April 19, 2012
Sports Information Director
Dr. Joseph Horton, Vice President for Student Affairs at Saint Anselm College, announces the appointment of Dr. Kelly Higgins as the next director of athletics.
Higgins will start at Saint Anselm on July 1, but has plans to be on campus in the immediate future to meet the athletic staff, as well as the rest of his Saint Anselm colleagues.
Higgins last served as athletic director at Fort Lewis College, an NCAA Division II school, which won women's basketball and men's soccer championships during his tenure.
"I am thrilled to welcome Kelly Higgins to the Saint Anselm community," said Dr. Horton. "He brings not only extensive and winning experience in Division II athletics, but also an appreciation for the role of athletics in the balanced, well-rounded experience that Saint Anselm wants to provide for its students."
Higgins was appointed at Fort Lewis College in 2007 and became athletic director in 2008. Under his leadership, the college won the 2009 NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Championships, finished runner-up in the 2010 NCAA Women's Basketball Championships and saw four teams qualify for the NCAA playoffs in the 2010-11 school year, the same year that men's golf and women's soccer each reached the Elite Eight.
At the same time, 52 student-athletes received academic all-conference honors, and graduation rates among athletes rose to the highest in Fort Lewis College history.
Higgins left his position last August to rejoin his wife in his native Omaha. "I had a son in Dayton, Ohio, a daughter at Truman State in Missouri, my wife in Omaha, Neb., and a job and a condo in Fort Lewis," he said. "Something had to give."
He said he was attracted to the Saint Anselm job, in part, because of its location in New Hampshire, where he had traveled as a member of the NCAA Ski Committee. He fell in love with hockey while working at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, helping them move into the CCHA, and was looking forward to having the opportunity to lead an athletics department with two strong ice hockey teams.
Beyond athletics, Higgins said Saint Anselm's Catholic Benedictine tradition attracted him, as well as its focus on the liberal arts and the education of the whole student.
"The balance of sports and the life of the mind is something that is important to me, as well as having faith be part of the educational experience," Higgins said. "But, in the end, it was the great people of Saint Anselm, starting with President [Jonathan] DeFelice, his administration, the search committee, faculty, student-athletes, athletic staff and friends of Saint Anselm, I met and talked with that sold me. I'm very excited to get started!"
Higgins played football and baseball in college and received his bachelor's from the University of South Dakota, master's from the University of Nebraska and Ed.D. from Temple University. He brings extensive experience in collegiate athletics, having worked at American University, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, the University of South Dakota and the University of the District of Columbia. He also served as the assistant commissioner of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
He expects his wife, Julie, to join him in New Hampshire. They have two children, Jack, a graduate student who is pursuing his master's degree in chemical engineering, and Lauren, who is a pre-med, tennis player at Truman State.
Tyler Fleming, who has served as the director of athletics on an interim basis since July 1, 2011, will resume his role as the associate director of athletics.
"I'd like to thank Tyler for his excellent work over the past year," Dr. Horton said. "During that time I've come to know Tyler as an excellent colleague and appreciate the depth and breadth of experience he brings to the athletic department at Saint Anselm."