Former Penn State Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Ellen Perry died Tuesday in State College. She was 72.
Perry was a member of the athletics staff from 1966 until her retirement on June 30, 2002. Her career included 40 years in teaching, coaching and athletic administration.
Perry was the Nittany Lions’ first women’s swimming and diving head coach. She was named associate athletic director and senior woman administrator in 1989.
Under Perry’s tenure as a senior administrator, Penn State’s women’s programs captured 14 national championships in six sports, as well as winning 17 Big Ten regular season championships and nine Big Ten tournament titles. The women’s fencing team also combined with the men’s team to win nine national titles in that period.
“Ellen Perry was one of the primary forces in making Penn State an early leader among national universities in providing opportunities for women in athletics on the intercollegiate, intramural and club levels,” said director of athletics Dave Joyner in a university release. “Ellen made a meaningful difference on the lives of Penn State students and staff and members of the State College and intercollegiate athletics’ communities. She played a significant role in Penn State’s transition into the Big Ten Conference and helped lay the foundation for the 60-plus Big Ten titles and nearly 20 national championships our women’s teams have won.”
“She played a significant role in Penn State’s transition into the Big Ten Conference and helped lay the foundation for the 60-plus Big Ten titles and nearly 20 national championships our women’s teams have won.”
Perry, from Reading, Mass., had management oversight responsibilities with Penn State’s 14 women’s sports as well as student-athlete services for the approximately 750 Nittany and Lady Lion student-athletes, the university said.
She guided the Penn State women’s swimming and diving program from 1970-81 and posted a winning percentage of .790 in 124 dual meets. Seven of her Penn State swimmers won a total of nine All-America citations. Four of her alumnae have coached at the collegiate level, Penn State said.
In 1990, the Eastern Women’s Swimming League named its team championship trophy the “Ellen Perry Cup.”
In 1981, Perry was named assistant to then-Athletic Director Joe Paterno, who was succeeded a year later by Jim Tarman.
“Today is truly a sad day for the entire Penn State family,” said Charmelle Green, Penn State Associate AD and Senior Woman Administrator. “Ellen Perry was not only a tremendous administrator, but she was an outstanding mentor, and friend to so many. I will forever be grateful for her support, her knowledge, and her expertise she shared with me throughout the past 2 1/2 years, and I will miss her positive spirit and outlook on life.”
Koch Funeral Home in State College is handling the arrangements.