Hieber’s success at ISU nothing but impressive

Jeff Mitchell

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a five-part series that features female athletes at Iowa State.

For over 20 years, Senior Associate Athletic Director J. Elaine Hieber has been a leader in ISU athletics, and an influential voice in both the local community and national athletics.

This month is especially important for the hard-working Hieber, as the National Association of Collegiate Women Administrators will be honoring her as its NCAA Division I-A Administrator of the Year award recipient.

The 2001 Administrator of the Year Banquet will be held Oct. 15 at the NACWAA Fall Forum in Wilmington, N.C. A total of seven Administrator of the Year awards will be presented for seven NCAA divisions.

Sitting next to a congratulatory bouquet sent to her by ESPN, Hieber, modest but open, talks about the award and years of tenure at Iowa State.

Hieber started her career at here in August 1979 when she was appointed as assistant director of athletics. In 1990, she was promoted to her current position.

“I came at a time when the university decided to merge the two [men’s and women’s] athletic departments,” she said. “I was brought in as kind of a merger.”

Hieber said one reason she came to Iowa State was because it gave her the chance to become involved in both men’s and women’s athletics.

“This expanded my opportunity to professionally grow in athletics,” she said.

As associate athletic director, Hieber said her responsibilities include supervising internal operations; appliance operations, office and staff; student athletic academic services; media relations and department human resource person.

Tom Kroeschell, associate director of media relations, has known Hieber for many years.

“She has given her life to making the experience of our student athletes at Iowa State the best it can be,” said Kroeschell. “A tremendous amount of what she does is behind the scenes. She’s not out there taking bows.”

In addition, Hieber is the athletic department’s senior women’s administrator. In this position, Hieber represents the department at many NCAA and Big 12 Conference meetings.

Hieber said the title “senior women’s administrator” is a requirement by the NCAA that is meant to signify the highest ranking woman in the department.

“It allows another avenue of representation for women in the national organization,” she said.

Hieber has participated in many committees. She served as chair of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Rules Committee from 1984 to 1991.

She has been selected as a peer reviewer for NCAA Division I certification.

She spent six years on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee, which selects the teams for the NCAA tournament, and she is very passionate about her position as University Coordinator for the Special Olympics.

She described the Special Olympics position as “a very thrilling experience” and said she is very appreciative of the hundreds of university personnel who help with the games each year.

“When I watch them walk on the field for opening ceremonies, it still is an overwhelming experience, the joy and happiness when I observe those Special Olympic athletes,” she said.

Kroeschell said Hieber is fair and serves as an advocate for his media relations team.

“She has been someone to whom I go for advice. She’s a great listener,” he said. “She has very strong convictions and that makes her a great leader.”

This year’s award is by no means the first Hieber has received for her work in athletics.

University honors include the 1990 ISU Professional and Scientific Excellence Award and the 1992 Carrie Chapman Catt Award for Gender Equity. In 1994, she received the Governor’s Volunteer Award for a regents institution. Miami of Ohio, where Hieber had worked prior to coming to Iowa State, inducted her into its Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.

There is not a coach, staff member or administrator who hasn’t been touched by what Hieber does, Kroeschell said.

Hieber said she is just as appreciative of everyone else in the administration.

“It’s because of the people I work with that I have won this award,” she said. “I couldn’t have gotten here on my own.”