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Celebrating Women in Sport and Physical Activity - Profiles
Pat Oldt - 2014 Honoree
Wendy Burns-Ardolino, left, and Pat Oldt are pictured in the DeVos Center.
Pat Oldt has spent her career advocating for women and girls to have the same opportunities as men and boys.
When she served as superintendent of Northview Public Schools in the 1990s, Oldt commissioned the district's first Title IX audit, which showed inequities in girls and boys sports.
"I viewed athletics as an extension of the classroom, and many did not see it that way," Oldt said. "I used to ask people, 'What if your daughters didn't have textbooks in the classroom? How is that so different from not having equal access in athletics?'"
Oldt saw similar work when she joined Grand Valley in 2000 and served as vice president for Planning and Equity. She led a campus climate study and a Title IX audit that resolved inequities in salaries, scholarship opportunities and faculty/staff benefits.
"Changing culture and tradition is a very difficult thing to do," she said. "If you do it, you need to be prepared to keep moving."
She said growing up and attending public schools in the segregated South helped shape her beliefs about equity. “Being exposed to blatant discrimination against women and people of color convinced me that the only ‘equalizer’ that could make a difference is education,” she said.
Oldt is now a distinguished professor in the College of Education, and university/community liaison for Charter Schools.