Bucknell’s Maisha Kelly Named Drexel’s Next Director of Athletics
June 16, 2021
Dear Members of the Drexel Community,
After a national search, we are proud to announce that Maisha Kelly, a seasoned collegiate athletics administrator with deep Philadelphia roots, will be Drexel’s new director of athletics.
Currently serving as Bucknell University’s senior associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator, Kelly has developed a wide breadth of experience during her decade-long tenure at Bucknell, ranging from sport oversight, to partnerships with key campus constituents, to the creation of DEI and student-athlete leadership programs, to fundraising. In each of those roles, Kelly led from the fundamental perspective of holistic support for Bucknell’s more than 750 Division I student-athletes.
Kelly’s administrative role at Bucknell included oversight responsibilities for as many as 12 of the 27 varsity athletics programs. She also served as the athletic department’s liaison to the academic deans, human resources, financial aid and admissions, student affairs and NCAA compliance. Kelly spearheaded the department's long-range planning, she served as the university's deputy Title IX coordinator, and she played an active role on the President’s Diversity Council. Kelly created the athletic department’s first student-athlete leadership development program — the Bucknell Athletics Leadership Institute — in 2011, and last year organized the Bucknell Athletics Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, comprised of administrators, coaches and student-athletes.
Kelly recently transitioned to become Bucknell Athletics’ primary leader in the area of development and fundraising, where earlier this spring she coordinated a 24-hour giving challenge that netted more than $1 million. And she was the fundraising project manager for a $10 million transformational enhancement of Bucknell's historic Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium.
Kelly’s rise in intercollegiate athletics administration came by way of student development positions at Rutgers, Vanderbilt and Saint Joseph’s. She joined Bucknell in 2010 after serving as assistant director of championships at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, and she has served as the NCAA’s sport leader for swimming and diving. In 2018, Kelly received a prestigious appointment to the NCAA Division I Council, where she represents the Patriot League on important policy matters. She also serves as the Council representative on the NCAA Board of Governors Student-Athletic Experience Committee and is a member of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee.
Kelly is the proven, high-energy leader who will have an ambitious vision for Drexel athletics — including women’s and men’s basketball — that the search committee sought to find as successor to Director of Athletics Eric Zillmer, PsyD, who decided to step down this spring after more than two decades of incredible service. She has a demonstrated ability to work with all campus constituencies and understands the vital importance of nurturing student-athlete leaders.
As an undergraduate at Saint Joseph’s, Kelly captained the track and field team and earned an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. She received her master’s in sport and recreation administration from Temple University in 2005.
Kelly’s selection follows a national search in partnership with industry leader Collegiate Sports Associates that encompassed both senior collegiate athletics administrators as well as pro sports and private-sector executives. The pool of finalists for Drexel’s Director of Athletics position included current Division I athletic directors and senior college administrators from conferences such as the Big East, Big Ten, SEC, and Big 12. Kelly rose to the top of the pool and is eminently qualified to leverage the success seen across all sports at Drexel, including championships in women’s and men’s basketball, men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse trip to the NCAA Tournament, women’s field hockey, men’s soccer, men’s swimming and diving, as well as the Dad Vail Regatta and Women’s Henley Regatta titles in rowing. Moving forward, Kelly will support the high level of competitiveness, academic excellence and attention to diversity and equity that characterizes Drexel athletics. Over time, we expect that Kelly — who starts at Drexel in mid-July — will help the University define and develop a new collegiate athletics model, in addition to becoming an influential thought leader in the national conversation about the future of collegiate athletics.
We want to thank members of the search committee, guided in partnership with MacKenzie Luke, PhD, associate vice president for Student Success, and we are extremely grateful to Drexel trustees Chris McKendry Andrade and Malik Rose for their involvement and counsel throughout the process.
Please join us in congratulating Maisha Kelly on her appointment and wishing her well as Drexel’s new director of athletics and as she and her husband, Kevin, and their children, Gregory and Kennedy, transition to Philadelphia.
Subir Sahu, PhD
Senior Vice President for Student Success