Associate Professor Emerita of Physical Education
Grinnell College’s mission statement dedicates the College to “the intellectual, moral, and physical well-being of individuals and of society at large.” For more than 20 years, Dee Fairchild nurtured all three aspects of human well-being. After a decade at Johnson State College in Vermont, she came to Grinnell in 1984 and served as athletic director from 1986 to 2007. She continued and strengthened the College’s dedication to developing the student-athlete. The result has been generations of intellectually vibrant and physically accomplished Grinnellians, many of whom have returned to teach in Grinnell’s physical education department and coach Grinnell’s teams.
She has often served as an external reviewer of physical education and athletics programs at liberal arts colleges, including Pomona, Wellesley, and Bryn Mawr. She has served on many prominent national and regional committees, including the Division III Management Council. She chaired the committee overseeing the merger of the Midwest Athletic Conference and the Midwest Athletic Conference for Women and chaired the merged conference in 2006 and 2007. The conference presented her with a meritorious service award for these and other efforts.
At Grinnell, she coached tennis, golf, basketball, and field hockey and was responsible for recreational activities as well. She helped create new athletic fields and tennis courts. She chaired the Department of Physical Education and served on faculty committees, and was a regular team member or captain for the Grinnell Town and Gown campaigns.
The most visible monument to her time at Grinnell is the magnificent Charles Benson Bear ’39 Recreation and Athletic Center, for which she juggled countless details and oversaw the needs of disparate spaces. She continued to work hard on the facility during its settling-in period. The combination of recreation and athletics in the center’s name points to her dedication to the wellness of all the members of the College community and of the town of Grinnell.