Mary Pavlich Roby
Mary Roby played a prominent and historic role in the development of women's athletics at the University of Arizona. Her leadership provided the primary force behind the transition from an intramural and club program to a nationally successful intercollegiate athletic program for women.
A Wildcat athlete during her undergraduate years at the University of Arizona in 1944-48, Mary returned to her alma mater as a member of the faculty in 1959. In addition to teaching duties, she directed the Women's Recreation Association program until 1972, when she became Arizona's first Director of Athletics for Women. In 1982, with the merger of men's and women's intercollegiate athletic programs, her appointment as the first female Associate Director of Athletics at the University of Arizona initiated a new era for women in athletic administration.
With the advent of the Title IX legislation in 1972, Mary led women's athletics at the University of Arizona through this period of great challenges and rapid growth. Her leadership extended to the national level where she was a clear and persistent voice for bringing women's athletics to parity with men's athletic programs.
In 1972, the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) became the first association to sponsor national championships for female athletes. Mary represented the University at all national meetings, served on numerous committees and was elected Vice President for Division I schools on the AIAW executive board.
Prior to joining the Pacific-10 Conference, where she later became a Vice President, Mary guided the University of Arizona through a series of athletic conferences including the Intermountain Athletic Conference, the Western Collegiate Athletic Association, and the Pacific-West Conference.
Mary was a founding member of the Council of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators, now called the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators (NACWAA). Her contributions for women in sport were acknowledged by NACWAA when they awarded her their "Lifetime Achievement Award."
In addition, she was one of the first two women to be granted membership on the Executive Council of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
With an M.S. from Smith College and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, Mary was a key member of the teaching faculty in the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences. During her years as a professor, she received Honor Awards from the Arizona Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the Southwest Chapter of the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and the American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
Mary is a member of the Golden Key Honorary, Bobcats Honorary, the University of Arizona Mortar Board Hall of Fame, the University of Arizona Greek Alumni Hall of Fame, the University of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame. The Mary Roby Gymnastics Training Center on the University of Arizona campus has been named in her honor.
Her legacy is manifested by the many students who acquired an appreciation of the history and significance of sports in our society; the legions of athletes whose sports experiences were enhanced by her activism on their behalf and enriched by her philosophy; and the countless numbers of professional colleagues who have been inspired by her intellect, leadership and integrity.