Photos: Jennifer Cohen's first day as Washington's athletic director

Mason Kelley/University of Washington Athletics

Jennifer Cohen is the 15th athletic director in University of Washington history, and the school's second female AD in the past 25 years.

Talk about a whirlwind first day on the job.

On Wednesday, Jennifer Cohen was introduced as the University of Washington's athletic director during a news conference at the football operations complex inside Husky Stadium.

Cohen has worked at UW since 1998 in various roles, including interim AD following Scott Woodward's departure in January. She describes herself as a lifelong Huskies fan and said her new role is a "dream come true."

"We are on the verge of something really special here," Cohen said in front of a crowd of hundreds, including media members, fans, donors and athletics staffers. "We can all feel it."

As the day wound down hours later, Cohen was keeping one eye on her son's youth baseball game and one eye on her phone, tracking the Washington women's golf team in the NCAA championship match in Oregon. We're not sure how the baseball game turned out, but the Huskies beat Stanford to win the crown.

"How many ADs get to compete for a national championship on their first day on the job?" UW president Ana Mari Cauce said as she introduced Cohen.

A look back at Cohen's day (all times PT).


Stephen Brashear/Red Box Pictures

10:22 a.m.: Cohen's day couldn't have gotten off to a better start. When she arrived on campus prior to the scheduled 11 a.m. news conference, her own image greeted her on the Husky Stadium JumboTron. Cohen spearheaded a $50 million fundraising campaign called "The Drive For Husky Stadium," which propelled the building's 2013 renovation. In fact, Cohen has focused most of her 18 years on athletics fundraising. "You can't visit any of our venues without seeing an example of her work," Cauce said later during the news conference.

Added Cohen: "I grew up a Husky fan, and I fell in love with the University of Washington right here in this stadium."


Mason Kelley/University of Washington Athletics

10:55 a.m.: After a final prep session with Cauce in the office of defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, Cohen stole a moment with her two sons, Tyson, left, and Dylan, who wished their mom luck before she took the stage.


Stephen Brashear/Red Box Pictures

11:01 a.m. With Cauce, right, at her side, the Husky Band ushered Cohen into the news conference with the school fight song, "Bow Down to Washington." Cauce said she interviewed four or five other candidates.

"We conducted a national search for a leader who would ... support our coaches and athletes so that our students could excel on the field and off the field," Cauce said. "She really is someone who will put the student-athlete first."


Stephen Brashear/Red Box Pictures

11:32 a.m.: It didn't take long for a reporter to note that Washington is the only Power 5 school with a female president and female AD.

Cauce recounted a recent experience at the Pac-12 meetings, when just three women helped make up the group of 25 people around the table for dinner.

"We were having discussions and at one point, I was trying to say something and other people kept on talking over me, of a particular gender," Cauce said, "and Jen and I just looked at each other."

Added Cohen: "We're in this one together."

"Exactly. The truth is, we tell students that this is what the future looks like, in terms of the University of Washington ... and I look forward to the day when this isn't unusual, and it's not worth commenting on."


Stephen Brashear/Red Box Pictures

12:41 p.m.: After the news conference, Cohen got congratulatory hugs from her kids and the likes of Washington men's basketball coach Lorenzo Romar before heading to a reception in the Don James Center -- named in honor of the late longtime UW football coach who led the Huskies to the 1991 national championship -- at Husky Stadium.

The crowd included campus leadership groups, donors and staffers -- and James' widow, Carol James, above left.

Cohen, who grew up in Tacoma, Washington (roughly a 40-minute drive south from campus on Interstate 5), said she once penned a letter to James -- known by Husky fans as the "Dawgfather" -- and that his response ignited her aspirations to be the athletic director at Washington. Cohen added that she has dreamed of this job for decades.


Mason Kelley/University of Washington Athletics

1:16 p.m. "I'd love to stay and visit, but I can't wait to get to work," Cohen said as she left the reception in her honor.

Back in her office, Cohen -- who said her objectives include positively impacting student-athletes, inspiring a championship culture and building and uniting community -- caught up on work and watched the women's golf team open its national championship match on the Golf Channel.

This academic year already has proved successful for several Husky squads. The UW women's basketball team played in the program's fist Final Four, the volleyball team reached the elite eight, and the softball team has advanced to this weekend's Tuscaloosa super regional.

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