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University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation

UChicago Athletics & Recreation Announces Creation of Patricia R. Kirby and Mary Jean Mulvaney Fund

UChicago Athletics & Recreation Announces Creation of Patricia R. Kirby and Mary Jean Mulvaney Fund

CHICAGO – The University of Chicago Department of Athletics & Recreation is pleased to announce the creation of the Patricia R. Kirby and Mary Jean Mulvaney Fund for Athletics.

The endowment was made possible by a generous group of women who participated in collegiate athletics during Kirby and Mulvaney's tenures leading the department. The endowment fund will enhance and enrich the student-athlete experience, and support the vision and mission of Maroon Athletics in perpetuity.

"The impact of Patricia R. Kirby and Mary Jean Mulvaney on the lives of UChicago student-athletes is immeasurable," said UChicago Senior Associate Athletic Director Rosalie Resch. "As one of those student-athletes, one of their colleagues, and a lifetime friend, I was honored to witness their skills as teachers and leaders, their love for the students, and the passion that they had for the athletic experience. 

"Over the years, I have heard countless students reminisce about the welcoming and nurturing atmosphere that they found when they arrived on campus. They welcomed everyone but they had the greatest influence on those of us who were first-generation college students or who came from small towns or rural communities. They provided support, a safe place for us to gather together and a release from the pressures of academic life."

Kirby and Mulvaney both played pivotal roles in the development of women's intercollegiate athletics at UChicago. Mulvaney served the department for 24 years, starting in 1966 as chair of the Department of Physical Education - Women's Division. She became one of the nation's first female athletic directors of a coeducational department in 1976, and held the title of Director of Athletics up through her retirement in 1990. Mulvaney also helped nurtured the growth of the women's varsity program, which increased its sports offerings from two to nine during her tenure. She presided over the women's programs move to the NCAA in 1981 and was one of the driving forces behind the formation of the University Athletic Association (UAA) in 1986.

Kirby arrived on the Hyde Park campus in 1967. She was an administrator and four-sport coach within women's athletics, leading the badminton, basketball, softball and volleyball programs. Her softball teams won state championships in both 1977 and 1978. In 1974, the Maroons became the nation's first-ever college women's basketball team to fly to an away game. Kirby retired from the department in 1990.

Mulvaney and Kirby are both elected members of the UChicago Athletics Hall of Fame. UChicago Athletics & Recreation distributes annual awards named in their honor, meant to recognize senior student-athletes for their scholarship, leadership and service.

Kirby passed away in September 2011 and Mulvaney passed away in September 2019.


To contribute to the Patricia R. Kirby and Mary Jean Mulvaney Fund for Athletics, visit the athletics giving page and indicate "Kirby Mulvaney Athletics Fund" in the comments, or contact Katie Britton at for more information.


About the Department of Athletics & Recreation at the University of Chicago

UChicago Athletics & Recreation sponsors 20 intercollegiate sports within NCAA Division III (non-scholarship). UChicago competes primarily within the University Athletic Association (UAA), whose membership includes Brandeis University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Emory University, New York University, University of Rochester (N.Y.) and Washington University in St. Louis. The Maroons are associate members of the Midwest Conference (MWC) in football and baseball, and the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) in women's lacrosse.

Over the course of the 2019-20 academic year, the Maroons featured 66 All-Americans, 53 all-region selections, six conference MVPs, three UAA Rookies of the Year and 127 all-conference performers.