EASTON, Mass. -- After 43 years of dedicated service as a coach and administrator, Paula Sullivan has announced her retirement from Stonehill College, effective July 1. The announcement has been confirmed by Stonehill president Fr. John Denning, C.S.C.
“I am forever grateful to Stonehill College for allowing me to pursue my passion and for a lifelong career in which I was able to work with so many talented student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff and countless others, too many to name,” Sullivan said. “It is a unique opportunity to spend an entire professional career in one place, but Stonehill is unique in that it stands behind its philosophy of community and family and has truly become my second family after so many wonderful years. The college will always be home to me and I will forever cherish the many, many relationships I have formed in my time here.”Through more than four decades of outstanding service to Stonehill, Sullivan has brought excellence in all capacities she has handled. As one of the winningest basketball coaches of all time, she turned a fledgling program into a national power, then as the college's director of athletics, Sullivan put her stamp on the overall excellence that Stonehill still enjoys at a national level, capturing the college's first Northeast-10 Conference Presidents' Cup for overall athletic excellence. Most recently, Sullivan led the department as assistant vice president for intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports since 2008.
Sullivan has overseen the college’s highly successful intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports programs, which serves the entire student body on a daily basis. The athletic department has finished in the top three of the Northeast-10 Presidents’ Cup standings for 10 consecutive years, a stretch that began during her time as athletic director. The athletic department has won four Presidents’ Cups in all, including a string of three in a row from 2010 through '12, and has also performed in the classroom by earning the NCAA Division II Presidents’ Award for Academic Excellence each of the first three years of its existence.
“There are no words that can truly capture Paula’s impact on Stonehill and our athletics program,” Denning said. “Throughout her 43 years of service to the college, she has distinguished herself as a true leader and mentor, both at Stonehill and in the Northeast-10 Conference, always demonstrating great care for our student-athletes. Her passion, dedication and wise counsel will be sorely missed by me and everyone at the college. Stonehill is so much better because of Paula's untiring dedication to the college.”
Sullivan was appointed as Stonehill's director of athletics in April 1996, taking over the duties full time after serving as interim athletics director for six months. She oversaw a program that offers 20 varsity sports as well as some of the top athletic facilities in the Northeast, including W.B. Mason Stadium, for which she was an instrumental piece in the construction. During her tenure as athletics director, Stonehill captured Northeast-10 Conference titles in eight sports to go with a pair of NCAA Division II national championships in women's lacrosse as well as the 2003 IHSA Collegiate Cup equestrian national championship. Skyhawk student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom under Sullivan's watch, as Stonehill has been recognized nationally for its student-athlete graduation rate and for its well-rounded athletics program.
Sullivan served on numerous NCAA and ECAC committees during her time as a full-time athletics administrator and was interim commissioner of the Northeast-10 Conference during the 2007-08 academic year, while also maintaining her duties as director of athletics at Stonehill.
A 1971 graduate of Bridgewater State, Sullivan served as the head women's basketball coach at Stonehill for 25 years from 1971 through '96. During that time span, the Skyhawks posted an overall record of 479-159 (.751) and captured six Northeast-10 Conference championships. Sullivan's squads recorded winning seasons during all of her campaigns at The Hill, and 10 of those teams earned berths in the Division II tournament. Sullivan's most successful years came from 1993 through '95, as Stonehill earned a spot in the Division II quarterfinals in each of those seasons, advancing to the national semifinals in 1995.
A five-time selection as Northeast-10 coach of the year, Sullivan was honored in 1994 as the Converse/Women's Basketball Coaches Association Division II national coach of the year. During her career, she coached a pair of 2,000-point scorers as well as 14 1,000-point scorers, and two Skyhawks earned Division II All-America accolades. She retired in March 1996 as the winningest Division II women's basketball coach in New England history and still ranks 14th in Division II history for winning percentage and 24th in wins.
Sullivan is a member of six halls of fame, including her alma maters at Archbishop Williams High School and Bridgewater State University. She is a charter member of the Stonehill Athletics Hall of Fame and has also been enshrined in the Northeast-10 Conference, New England Basketball Coaches and New Agenda Northeast Halls of Fame. Sullivan has also honored as recipient of Dr. Catherine Comeau Award for Professional Achievement from Bridgewater State, the Moreau Medallion Award for significant contribution to Stonehill’s success in the first 50 years and the Gaudete Medal for long and distinguished service to Stonehill. She has also collected the Easton Chamber of Commerce Community Award and the Pathfinder Award from the Massachusetts Association of Physical Education, Health, Recreation and Dance for her contributions to women's athletics.
Prior to her admistrative impact, Sullivan was a Hall of Fame women's basketball coach, cultivating the program from its infancy into a national power in the mid-1990s.
“For 12 years, I have had the privilege of working with one of the most truly gifted people in college athletics,” said Brendan Sullivan, director of intercollegiate athletics at Stonehill. “She has been a mentor, a guide and a close friend for whom I am grateful to have learned so much from. Stonehill is so fortunate to have had her tireless work ethic, unparalleled passion and her extensive knowledge at our service for over 40 years. Serving as her successor as the director of intercollegiate athletics for the past six years, I knew from the first day that she left big shoes to fill. I quickly decided that they could not be filled and that I would serve better setting them aside, admiring them, and working each day to emulate her work. On behalf of the entire department and our student-athletes, who flourish today because of Paula’s tremendous leadership, I wish Paula all the best in her well-deserved retirement.”
A public recognition of Sullivan’s service to the college is being planned for the upcoming academic year and will be announced at a later date.