2012 Recipient - John Harper
Since John Harper's arrival at Bridgewater, Bears' varsity athletic programs have made 76 team and individual NCAA Division III Championship appearances. Among the many team highlights at the national level are the runner-up finish by the softball team in 1994, the baseball team's third-place showing in 1996 and the Sweet Sixteen run by the men's basketball team in 2009.
The Bears have captured the prestigious Howard C. Smith Cup 10 times during Harper's tenure. The Smith Cup is awarded to the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) institution that compiles the most points based on the placement of each of its programs competing in the 13 league championships. Prior to his arrival in 1991, Bridgewater won outright or shared the Smith Cup once in 19 attempts since the trophy was first awarded in 1973.
During his time at Bridgewater, Harper has been instrumental in advocating for numerous programming, staffing and facilities improvements to benefit the campus community. Among these major projects was the construction of Alumni Park, a baseball/softball complex which has hosted numerous NCAA regional softball tournaments, construction of the 80,000-square-foot Adrian Tinsley Center and the $4.7 million renovation of Swenson Field.
In addition to his duties at Bridgewater, Harper served a three-year term as commissioner of the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference, the nation's second-oldest NCAA Division III men's and women's playing conference. He has been a member of numerous NCAA and ECAC regional sports championship committees and served as chairperson of the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee. Harper sat on the Division III Management Council for three years and was an executive mentor in the NCAA-sponsored Fellows Leadership Development Program in 2007 and 2008.
Locally, Harper has been a member of many campus committees such as Minority Recruitment and Retention, Mentors in Violence Prevention and the Safe Colleges Coalition.
In recognition of his numerous administrative successes, he was named the 2002-2003 NCAA Division III Athletic Director of the Year in the Northeast Region by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
His long-time involvement with Special Olympics in Massachusetts earned him the Massachusetts Outstanding Co-Games Director of the Year Award in 1999, the Hanlon Award for Volunteerism in 2003 and, along with the rest of the Bridgewater State University Management Team, induction into the Massachusetts Special Olympics Hall of Fame in 2004. He received the Commonwealth's Citation for Outstanding Performance in 1999.
This past year, Harper was selected as the ECAC Male Administrator of the Year and was recognized by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his dedication and leadership as well as his perseverance in promoting wrestling in Massachusetts and New England.
Prior to assuming his duties at Bridgewater, Harper served as both an assistant and associate director of athletics at Wichita State University (1987-1991), director of the Charles E. Smith Center for Physical Education and Athletics at The George Washington University (1982-1987), and director of Recreational Sports at Missouri State University (1974-1982). He earned his undergraduate degree from Ithaca College in 1971 and completed his master's degree at Indiana University several years later.
Last Modified: May 21, 2012