Kevin Dunn is the
for the Heron soccer team. In addition to offering support
and academic advice, he’s also willing to role up his sleeves
and shovel snow off Boswell Field to make sure the game
Bridging Athletics and Academics
by Steve Bodnar
As the Faculty-Athletics Fellow for William Smith Soccer, for the past six years Associate Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn has been cheering on the Herons at home games and on the road. Dunn even traveled with the team to San Antonio this year, his third trip to the finals in support of the team, and was on the sidelines when the Herons clinched the NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer National Championship. Dunn is known on campus as an expert on politics and international relations in Africa, but he’s also known for wearing William Smith soccer T-shirts on game days.
“There’s one of two lucky T-shirts that I wear for every game,” Dunn explains. “I was wearing both of the T-shirts during the entire run in the playoffs and during the National Championship tournament. It’s all part of my way of showing support.”
Dunn’s involvement with game-day traditions is emblematic of just how committed to the team he has become over the years. As the Faculty-Athletics Fellow, Dunn bridges the William Smith soccer players’ academic experience with their lives on the field, acting as both advocate and mentor. In San Antonio, Dunn was an important link between HWS faculty and the Herons as they battled through an exhilarating tournament some 1,500 miles from Geneva.
“As a faculty member, it’s been great to be able to stand with the coaches and be at the bench to cheer on the students and congratulate the team for their accomplishments,” says Dunn, who chairs the political science department and has been a member of the faculty since 2001. “It lets the students know that the faculty are there to support them in what they are doing out on the field.”
Dunn has seen the team’s triumphs and challenges firsthand, offering advice and encouragement when needed and attending practices and games.
“It’s about being engaged and caring,” says Dunn. “A number of players have reached out to have conversations about how to navigate and balance academic and personal issues. They seem to be very receptive to the idea that there’s a faculty member who has a connection with them beyond the classroom.”
In 2009, Dunn received the Faculty Appreciation Award bestowed by the William Smith Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. In his office, there’s a team-made poster that reads, “We Love You, Kevin Dunn.” He’s honored to have received both.
“I could not think of a more dedicated person than Professor Dunn,” says Madeline Buckley ’15. “He’s been with us at every game, and we wouldn’t have it any other way, so it made sense for him to come to Texas with us because if he wasn’t with us on that journey, our team would not have been complete. There is no Heron soccer team without him. It’s that simple.”
Though modest about his own role, Dunn emphasizes the impact of the Faculty-Athletics Fellow program, which matches faculty members with all of the Hobart and William Smith varsity teams. Established in 2006, the program fosters meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships between students and faculty members.
“It has been a humbling experience for me to see what the students of the William Smith soccer team have accomplished,” Dunn says. “Every year I am grateful for this opportunity to see how the HWS liberal arts education is manifesting in their lives.”
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