BIDDEFORD — After a distinguished 16-year career as a coach and athletics administrator at the University of New England, associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator Joan Howard has announced she will retire May 15.

“I have been so fortunate in my life to have worked in a profession that I have been so passionate about,” Howard said. “During these past 16 years at UNE, I have met and worked side-by-side with wonderful colleagues that I can truly call my friends, and that is what I will miss the most. It is with great excitement that I venture forward on the next phase of my life’s journey. Thank you to all who have made my time here so memorable.”

Howard was promoted to associate director of athletics in August 2015 following six years as assistant director of athletics focusing on compliance and business operations. She has served as the senior woman administrator since 2009, and recently concluded a four-year appointment as a member on the NCAA Division III Softball Committee, representing and chairing the New England region.

Prior to her administrative role, Howard served as a head coach in both field hockey and softball, and began her career at UNE as an assistant softball coach.

Howard led the field hockey squad for three seasons (2007-09), ending with the program’s most successful campaign, at the time, after the Nor’easters posted a 16-3 record and captured the 2009 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) New England Championship. She was selected by her peers as the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Coach of the Year that season, as Big Blue finished with a share of the regular-season title. Howard’s teams went 28-23 overall (.549) but logged a .667 winning percentage in league play during her tenure.

Before that, Howard led the softball team to a 65-52 record (.556) in four seasons (2004-07) as head coach, including a 24-14 mark in 2007. She was chosen CCC Coach of the Year in 2005 and the team went 51-37 (.580) in league play under her guidance. Howard spent the preceding four years as the assistant coach of the program.

Howard is a graduate of Bridgewater State University, where she played four years of both softball and basketball, as well as two years of field hockey, while attaining a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. She was a four-year starter on the diamond, helping the Bears to a national tournament appearance. The basketball team also made a regional tournament during her time.

A native of Worcester, Mass. and resident of Biddeford, Howard holds a master’s degree in athletics administration, health and physical education from Springfield College. Over the years she has served on numerous committees on the UNE campus and is currently very active with the University’s Green Dot Initiative.

“On behalf of the entire University of New England community, particularly our student-athletes and athletics staff, I want to thank Joan for her 16 years of enthusiastic and professional service,” commented UNE Vice President for Student Engagement and Director of Athletics Jack McDonald. “Joan has been the go-to person in our department for NCAA compliance, budget, gender equity and much more. I, and many others, will miss Joan very much and we all wish her a very, very happy and healthy retirement.”

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