JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Longtime University of Tennessee athletics administrator Joan Cronan delivered the keynote address at the 2013 Carson-Newman Athletic Gala at Stokely Memorial Cafeteria on Thursday night.
Cronan spoke the capacity crowd about the mission of collegiate athletics, as well as a testimonial about what Carson-Newman has meant in her life.
"Carson-Newman's just a great school," Cronan said. "My late husband taught here for many years, and I thought I was part of the family. I cheer for Carson-Newman all the time."
Cronan, who has a long history with Carson-Newman, was thrilled to be back on campus and wants to get more involved with the school moving forward.
"I've been nominated to be on their Board of Trustees, and I hope that comes through," Cronan said. "Therefore I'm going to be really involved with Carson-Newman.
The University of Tennessee benefited from Cronan's keen leadership and decisiveness during her three decades of service. The institution's athletic and academic successes are evident in her 2005 selection as Athletic Director of the year by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators.
That honor followed her 2004 recognition as the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics' Southeast Region Athletic Director, and as Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame's Administrator of the Year in 1998.
Cronan joined UT from South Carolina's College of Charleston, where she served in several roles for a decade. She concluded her service there as women's athletic director, having overseen the program to its recognition as the country's best women's athletics operation in 1980.
A past president of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and vice chair of Leadership Knoxville, she is active on the boards of First Tennessee Bank and the YMCA. She also works closely with Athletes in Action and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, for which she has served as both a local board member and a national trustee. She is a deacon at Central Baptist Church-Bearden.
A longtime member of the Carson-Newman family, Joan earned BS and MS degrees in physical education at LSU, where she is a member of the Alumni Hall of Distinction. Her late husband, Dr. Tom Cronan, was a beloved C-N health, physical education and sport science faculty member from 1983-2005. The couple has two daughters, Kristi (Mrs. Rhett Brenner) and Stacey (Mrs. Kent Bristow), and four grandchildren.
All proceeds from the gala went directly to the Carson-Newman athletics, with benefactors choosing their sport to support.