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New athletic director is eager to share Jaguars' successes

June 21, 2016

IUPUI's new athletic director is embracing goals set by Chancellor Paydar.

Chancellor Nasser Paydar, left, welcomed Roderick Perry to campus when Perry was named the head of Jaguars athletics in the fall of 2015.

Roderick Perry has been the IUPUI athletic director for only a few months, but that's been long enough to convince him of one thing: He's in the right place.

"Athletics helps a campus like ours build a sense of community, to engage with students and help students engage with each other," said Perry, noting that more students than ever live on campus. "They want a broad, student-centered experience, and athletics can play a big part in achieving that goal."

Being part of an urban campus is familiar to Perry, who came to Indianapolis from Wright State University, based in Dayton, Ohio. He has seen what athletics can mean to students hungry to enjoy a rich campus life.

He says he has noticed that IUPUI is eager to build an engaged student body and is convinced his department can help achieve that mission.

"A solid athletics program helps recruit students who aren't athletes but who want an opportunity to enjoy sports events during their college careers. Our foundation is growing stronger, which means we have a tremendous story to tell," Perry said. "Our challenge is to do a better job of telling it."

Women's basketball coach Austin Parkinson gives Perry high marks for "the passion and excitement he has for the job." Parkinson also said the coaches "are behind IUPUI's engagement initiatives. Dr. Perry sees IUPUI as a hidden gem, and his goal is for our student-athletes to connect with fellow students."

Perry embraces any chance he gets to share IUPUI's story with Indianapolis community groups, and he has noticed a growing interest in the campus's athletic and academic efforts.

Like many college athletics officials, Perry gets asked about negative news from other campuses and how it reflects on college athletics. "People are concerned, and they should be, he said. "We're all very visible, and I believe it is important that we stay within the rules. We expect our athletes and coaches to do the same."

It helps that the Jaguars athletic department has a strong academic track record to showcase. "To me, the biggest story is our academic record: More than 70 percent of our student-athletes have grade-point averages over 3.0," Perry said. "We know that most student-athletes will go professional, but in their careers, not their sport. It's important that we help them maintain that balance, that focus."

Success on the field and in the classroom is important, but Perry has even loftier goals: "Over the next five years or so, our goal as a department is to help our athletes engage with fellow students and with people in the community, to be good citizens. That is an important part of Chancellor Paydar's goal for the campus, and we believe in that goal."

The new director has plenty of tools to tell IUPUI's story.

Technology such as video gives new athletic director Roderick Perry, right, the tools he needs to share news about IUPUI success stories. | PHOTO COURTESY OF JAGUARS ATHLETICS

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