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Louise Cowin appointed executive director, Athletics & Recreation

Post-secondary leader recognized for sport, well-being and inclusion joins Ryerson University
August 13, 2019
Louise Cowin

As Ryerson’s new executive director, Athletics & Recreation, Louise Cowin will oversee a varsity program that includes 11 teams and 250 student-athletes, 18 competitive clubs, a robust recreation program, and the operations of the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) and Ryerson Athletic Centre (RAC).

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Louise Cowin as executive director, Athletics and Recreation, whose tenure officially started on August 12. 

Louise is a respected post-secondary leader with over 25 years experience at institutions across Canada, maintaining a strong connection to sport, well-being and inclusion throughout her career. 

From 2011-2018, she served as the vice-president, students (VPS) at the University of British Columbia (UBC), with direct oversight of UBC’s nationally recognized varsity and recreation programs. During her tenure as VPS, Louise spent two years as the acting director of the Athletics and Recreation Department, during which the varsity program extended and expanded its winning trajectory, and a greater focus was placed on holistic excellence. Inclusive recreation programs were developed to better engage diverse students; participation in intramurals and attendance at varsity games increased by double-digits; a new stream of competitive sports clubs launched; fundraising campaigns for new facilities were successful; and varsity and recreation became recognized and integrated as key contributors to the institution’s goals of exceptional student experiences, academic success and well-being.

Prior to her role at UBC, Louise served as warden of Hart House, the historic facility at the University of Toronto which provides a wide range of services to students and community members through a social enterprise model. She has held progressive roles at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, including director, student services and school-university partnerships. Louise has also held academic faculty appointments as an assistant professor in the School of Health and Human Performance at Dalhousie University, and Outdoor and Experiential Education at Queen's University. 

Louise received a MSc in physical education from Dalhousie University where she was a Killam Scholar, varsity athlete and varsity team manager. She holds a PhD in educational studies from McGill University. Louise also swam in the 1978 and 1982 Commonwealth Games. 

At this time, I would like to extend sincere gratitude to Jeff Giles, who has stewarded our athletics and recreation operations on an interim basis since July 2018. Jeff’s leadership has been instrumental during this time of transition, and ensured that the department continued building on its record of success. 

Please join me in welcoming Louise to the Ryerson community. I look forward to the contributions she will make not only to the Department of Athletics and Recreation but to the university as a whole. I also want to thank the members of the search committee whose contributions led to Louise’s successful appointment.


Jen McMillen
Vice-Provost, Students


Search committee members:

Carly Clarke, Manager & Head Coach, Women’s Basketball

Tony Conte, Executive Director, Office of the Vice-President, Administration and Operations

John Duco, Manager & Head Coach, Men’s Hockey

Jeff Giles, Interim Director, Athletics & Recreation

Allan MacDonald, Executive Director, Student Wellbeing

Krishan Mehta, Assistant Vice-President, Engagement

Andrew Pettit, Manager, Recreation

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