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Get to know Jill McCartney

Get to know Jill McCartney

Jill McCartney began her tenure as Doane's new director of athletics in September, leaving her role as the assistant athletic director for compliance and academics at Washburn University, an NCAA Division II school in Topeka, Kansas. Get to know the new leader of Tiger Athletics through the Q&A below.


What’s your hometown?

I was born in Sacramento, California, but grew up primarily in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I graduated from Holland Hall High School in Tulsa.

What’s your education background?

I received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from the University of Arizona. I went through the docotorate program at Arizona and completed two-thirds of my first dissertation before abandoning the idea of being a true academic. I did complete a Ph.D. in education, with a specialization in leadership in higher education, through an online program with Capella University. I received a research grant from the NCAA to support my dissertation on women and careers in college athletics.

What are the three things you couldn’t live without?

The first would be my husband, and not just because he cooks and cleans so much more than I do; he is my primary support and partner in life.

Second, I really don’t think I could live outside a college setting. Being around young people as they embark on their lives’ adventures and having the intellectual and cultural activity that teems on a college campus are incredible benefits. And of course there are the sporting events and the fact that I have season tickets to all of them!

Finally, on a more whimsical note, I think I would struggle without my desk drawer full of candy.  

What is your favorite quote?

The great women’s soccer player Carin Jennings Gabarra defined a champion as “someone who trains when no one is looking.” I’ve always thought that this definition is true not only in the realm of sports but also in terms of character and integrity. Who you are when no one is looking tells the real story of your character.

You come from an English background. What is your favorite book?

My favorite Shakespeare play is King Lear. It’s a poignant and gripping story about family, power and identity. I also like, though, Jane Smiley’s very smart retelling of King Lear in her novel “A Thousand Acres.” Her novel turns Shakespeare’s version of the story on its head, and it made me rethink how we are prone to viewing others through our own narrow versions of reality.

Do you have a favorite TV show? Or are you more of a movie watcher?

My husband and I have a “date night” on Sundays when he makes old-fashioned popcorn and we watch Masterpiece Mystery on PBS.

Although I have not seen it in a long time, the most memorable movie I’ve watched is the cult classic “Harold and Maude.” It made an incredible impression on me when I was younger and trying to figure out what I believed and who I was.  


How do you like to spend your free time? Any big hobbies?

I have two: running and eating. I do the one in order to accommodate the other.

What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

My husband and I used to vacation in northern California, and our first trip was probably my favorite. We sailed with my husband’s cousin under the Golden Gate Bridge, ate a picnic lunch while anchored in McCovey Cove and visited the wineries in Napa and Sonoma. That trip spurred my husband’s interest in becoming a sommelier and I have enjoyed good wines ever since!

Do you have a role model?

I’ve been fortunate to have met and been influenced by a number of people I consider role models. These folks have been very generous in sharing their experiences and insights, and I value them so much because I respect not only the job they do but who they are. These people are generous and compassionate, and they have always helped me keep sight of serving others and seeing the bigger picture beyond my own selfish view.

What convinced you that Doane was the right place for you?

When I visited Doane, I was immediately taken by the beauty of the campus and the friendliness of everyone I met. I was also impressed by the leadership on campus and felt that I would be challenged to grow as a professional and as a person.

You haven’t been here long but in your opinion, what is the best spot on the Crete campus?

Hard question! During the day, I most enjoy the view of Doane Lake through the trees from outside the Perry Campus Center. On game days, though, I think the best spot is either the press box at Al Papik Field or the seats behind the home bench in Haddix. If you were to ask me this question in the spring, though, I might tell you that I prefer the seats behind home plate at the baseball and softball fields.

What makes you proud to wear Tiger orange and black?

The students at Doane are the reason I am proud to wear orange and black. They are smart, respectful, optimistic and full of promise.

How do you LIVE (Leadership, Inquiry, Values, Engagement) Doane?

I really like the idea of “living Doane” by embodying these core values. I hope that each day I show positive leadership by serving my colleagues with character and integrity. I hope that I show inquiry by being open to learning new ways of doing things and being willing to listen to others. I hope that people will be able to see my values of honesty, hard work and integrity in everything I do and in how I treat others. And I especially hope that students and colleagues see that I am enthusiastically engaged in their endeavors and pursuit of success.