Dr. Gary M. Penfield
Year Inducted: 2011
Dr. Gary M. Penfield, RIC’s current Vice President for Student Affairs, has been a key contributor to the college’s rise in the athletic arena on the national stage. Penfield has been responsible for the oversight of intercollegiate athletics and recreation for over 35 years now. His leadership has been instrumental in the department’s most successful period of growth and achievement in college history. Penfield has helped see the athletic facilities improve to be some of the best in New England, so that RIC’s student-athletes succeed both in the classroom and in the athletic arena.
“Given my 35-year tenure at this institution, I know many people who have been inducted and I’m thrilled to be a part of that group,” said Penfield. Penfield has served as vice president for student affairs since 1979 and has worked with RIC athletic director Don Tencher for the past 16.
Tencher said of Penfield, “He is not only one of the finest administrators I’ve ever worked with, he’s one of the finest persons I’ve ever known. The past 10 years have undoubtedly been the most successful period in RIC athletic history, and I know for certain that none of this would have been possible without the support and guidance of Dr. Penfield.”
The Recreation Center, now undergoing major renovation, Tencher said, “was a direct result of Dr. Penfield’s long-term commitment to providing RIC students with the best possible experience that resources will allow.”
“I’ve been supportive of the plans of the entire athletic staff,” Penfield said. “I hope I’ve been able to articulate the difference they are able to make in the quality of life at this institution. It takes a lot of people working together to get these projects done.”
A student-athlete himself, Penfield played soccer and baseball at the State University of New York at Albany. He said the skills he learned have contributed to his overall development and continue to be used in his professional life. “Athletics helped me develop as an individual,” he said. “You’re a member of a team giving your individual best so that you don’t let others down, you’re learning leadership skills and how to motivate others to give their best, you’re learning how to celebrate when you have victories and how to understand and accept defeats. These are all important skills to have and they’re an important part of how I operate professionally.”
Penfield hopes that a wider section of the student body will get involved in athletics. “When we use the term ‘athletics,’ it goes beyond intercollegiate athletics,” he said. “It involves each and every member of our community. I want to see a broader section of the student body involved.”
Although induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame is the crowning jewel in a career filled with athletic accomplishments, Penfield has no plans to lower the bar. “I look forward to continuing my contributions to the college. I’ve worked with a succession of presidents, vice presidents and directors, all of whom I count as friends. They’ve been supportive of my leadership and of me as an individual.”
Penfield earned his doctorate at the University of Cincinnati in 1975. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany in 1963 and his master’s degree in 1965.
He resides in Greenville, R.I. Penfield has seven children: Nicole Kodak, Todd Penfield, Jason Raofield, Matthew Penfield, Ethan Loufield, Shelby Fallon, Damian Stutz and 14 grandchildren.