Laurie Priest, Chair of Physical Education & Athletics

Senior Lecturer in Physical Education

Specialization:Women in sport; Title IX and gender equity issues; health and fitness benefits of exercise and sport for women; addressing homophobia in athletics

Laurie Priest oversees the College’s physical education program and directs an intercollegiate program in more than a dozen sports, a four-million dollar equestrian center, and a championship 18-hole golf course, site of the 2004 U.S. Women’s Open.  Under Priest’s leadership, Sports Illustrated for Women named Mount Holyoke the nation’s top women’s college athletics program in 2000.

A leading authority on women and sports, Priest is active professionally on national, regional and state levels, has published numerous articles and is a frequent presenter at conferences.  She is a tireless advocate for equity in sport and is recognized nationally for her work to promote and support title IX.  In 1989-90, Priest was elected President of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport.  She served on the NCAA Women’s Committee on Committees from 1991-94, and chaired this committee in 1993-94.  Priest also served from 1993-96 on the Executive Council of the Eastern College Athletic Conference and from 1996-2000 on the Executive Board of the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Administrators (NACWAA).  Priest also served on the Board of Governors and the Social Justice Committee of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

In 1991, Priest was awarded the Mabel Lee Award from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and in 1992 was inducted into the Northeast New Agenda Hall of Fame. In 1997, she received the Massachusetts Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Merit Award for outstanding leadership in women's athletics. In 2002 she was recognized by the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport as their Honor Award recipient and as the Division III Athletic Administrator of the Year by the National Association for Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators.  In May 2007, she was inducted into the Marymount University Athletic Hall of Fame and in the fall of that same year selected as one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” by the Institute for International Sport.

Priest continues to promote lifetime sport and physical activity and teaches Ballroom Dance, Hiking in the Pioneer Valley and Dog Sledding as part of the physical education curriculum at Mount Holyoke College.  She also teaches two academic classes; Women in Sport at Mount Holyoke and College Athletics to sport management majors at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. 

Priest received her B.S. in physical education in 1977 from The College of Wooster (Ohio), and her M.S, in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland - College Park.  Prior to coming to Mount Holyoke in 1989, she served for seven years as director of athletics, assistant professor and swimming coach at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.

When Laurie is not at Mount Holyoke, you will find her hiking with her three dogs or sea kayaking the islands of Maine.