Central Michigan University named Amy Folan as the new Zyzelewski Family Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics after a nationwide search. Folan began her new role with CMU Athletics on Oct. 5, succeeding Michael Alford. Rachel Blunt served as the interim director of CMU Athletics since Aug. 31.
Folan joins CMU from the University of Texas at Austin, where she served as executive senior associate athletics director since 2012. As part of that role, she oversaw the Longhorn Foundation, the fundraising arm of Texas Athletics, and the Texas Athletics ticket office. In 2019, under her leadership, the Longhorn Foundation boasted its largest membership and Annual Fund total since it began, with a total production of $116.5 million.
The eighth athletic director at CMU since 1940 and the first woman to hold the title, Folan is looking forward to settling into her new role and getting to know the Mount Pleasant community.
We sat down with her to get to know her a little better and talk about the Athletics Department at CMU.
Q: What initially sparked your interest in this position, and in moving from the University of Texas across the country to Central Michigan University here in Mid-Michigan?
A: I think what really sparked my interest is the success of Central Michigan University, the long tradition in the MAC. CMU has always been a leader. And, from afar, I have met people through my career - Roy Kramer, commissioner of the SEC, when I was at Georgia. He's had a profound impact on this place. Judy Van Horn at South Carolina and I worked to reform Compliance and Enforcement nationally. So I had met people and seen the impact Central Michigan had had when I was contacted about the position, but really what solidified it for me was the people. The people I met through the search process, the vision of President Davies, the passion for athletics, and the great success that they have - but also for looking to take this to even greater heights, and build on all the great things, and keep the trajectory and upward momentum going.
Q: What unique assets do you feel you bring to this position that will move the Athletic Department at Central Michigan University to the next level?
A: I think that my unique assets are just the fact that I did first half of my career working in the internal side of the business. I did the compliance, internally trying to build a leading program at Texas, worked with all the internal facets of an athletic department. Then the greater part of the last 10 years I've worked in the external side of all the revenue generation - fundraising, tickets. So, what I bring is kind of a diverse experience from SEC schools to the NCAA to the Big 12, and then also working in every area of the department in some form or fashion, prior to taking the role of the AD.
Q: When you think about "the next level" for the Athletic Department at Central Michigan University, what does that mean and what does it look like?
A: I think what it means is that we continue to support the mission of the university and help it. Athletics are the front porch to the university. We bring interest and excitement and passion for the university that we showcase with the university as a whole. I also think it's showcasing the greater Mount Pleasant community and all the things that it has to offer. I'm going to be working in this first 90 days to look, learn, and listen from all the coaches, all our departments, and our campus partners. And to be honest, I'm going to help facilitate conversations about, "What do we need to be doing to go to the next level and continue this success and what does that look like?" So, our staff and student athletes are all thinking about what our goals are in the next 1, 3, 5, 10 years; how we strategically attain those goals; and, how we make sure those align with the university and its mission and we support that in all of our efforts.
Q: You are the eighth athletic director at Central Michigan University since 1940, but the first female athletic director at the university. Do you feel this is a new chapter in the growth of the Athletic Department at CMU?
A: I feel like it is another chapter in the growth of CMU, just from changing tenure. I may technically be the first female AD, but this department has a long history of strong female leaders that have shaped this department and given me this opportunity - from Fran Koenig to Marcy Weston to Margo Jonker to Sue Guevara and Christy Freese. You know, Rachel Blunt did a great job while interim. Overall, this department has had great leaders - with Roy Kramer, Dave Kielitz, and Herb Deromedi - so expectations have always been high in this role and I'm just excited to be able to continue that tradition.
Q: A little bit of a fun question: You're coming from living in Texas for quite a while, and you've moved here in the fall. Are you prepared for a full Michigan winter?
A: I'm pretty familiar with winter although it has been 18 years. I'm from Portland Maine - at least, I went to high school there. My parents are originally from there. I played soccer at UConn. So, I am used to having a cold climate in the winter. But I am loving the fall. It's been a long time and I kind of missed it. It's nostalgic for me. My kids are super excited about having snowball fights and seeing snow. They're Texans, so they have not experienced this; but, my husband and I are high school sweethearts from Portland, Maine so I think it's kind of a coming home for us. Michigan reminds us a lot of Maine and we're excited to be a part of the Mount Pleasant community and all that Michigan has to offer.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: You know, I think I just covered it but I think the part about being here and being in this community - the passion and the pride. This is an ideal family location to raise my kids that are 13 and 7. We're fortunate to have lived in a great place like Austin but, you know, it took me an hour to go 13 miles. So I'm looking forward to having some more quality family time and time with the student athletes and not having to commute, but everywhere it's about the people. So I look forward to being here, and meeting everybody here and I just keep telling all the Longhorns they have a new team to cheer for so I really don't feel like it's goodbye. I feel like it's a new chapter. Hello, and I'm excited to be here and be a part of Central Michigan University.