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Great teachers help social change happen

Jean Minnick has been a force for change in the lives of young women at Davis & Elkins College and other female collegiate athletes across West Virginia.

Title IX was passed in 1972 just two years after Jean earned her PhD in physical education at New York University. Dr. Minnick knew she needed to help change happen for athletic girls, and it would not be easy in a small town private college. Nevertheless, she made it happen with persistence, patience and pizazz.

She was a well-educated woman in a man’s world where she was not getting equal pay for equal work. She earned her way up in the institutional hierarchy where men were usually the department chairs, and most people thought girls should be cheerleaders — not athletes with good scholarships.

Nevertheless, Dr. Minnick had the credentials and experience to lead the Department of Health, Sport, and Movement Science, and her persistence eventually paid off.

When she finally took over the leadership role, she was wise enough to be patient. She decided to start changing things slowly. She would add one new program a year to bring equity without overextending her budget.

She coached Division I field hockey for 17 years with an overall record of 145-21-14 including 12 undefeated regular seasons. Her teams earned three Midwest Championships and placed third in the Division I National Championship.

Jean Minnick served ten years on the WVAHPERD Board of Directors and was president of the West Virginia College of Health and Physical Education Association. She was active in the local AAUW, Alpha Delta Kappa, AAUP, and the National Association of Physical Education in Higher Education. She published several articles in newspapers and wrote a textbook instructor’s guide.

Dr. Minnick has earned much recognition including the Davis & Elkins College Award for Excellence in Teaching, the West Virginia Celebrate Women Award, and Who’s Who in American Education.

One of her former students, Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca now holds the Minnick Endowed Faculty Chair in Physical Education at Davis & Elkins College.

Dr. DeLuca said of her teacher, “She was a pioneer in her field. She set a high standard and wanted her students to do their best.”

Dr. DeLuca emphasized the ways that Dr. Minnick supported her personally: “She believed in me, and that made all the difference.”

Dr. Minnick was clearly a teacher who gave others the confidence to perform at their highest level. For this reason, we are proud to place a Dr. Jean Minnick apple on the Kump Education Center wooden Apple for the Teacher Tree.

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