University of Minnesota

Our History

The vision and pioneering spirit of Dorothy McNeill Tucker led to the establishment of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota in 1993. The creation of an interdisciplinary research centerdevoted solely to girls and women in sportestablished standards of excellence with respect to scholarly inquiry, graduate education and community outreach and public service. Housed in the College of Education and Human Development's School of Kinesiology, the Tucker Center is devoted to sponsoring, promoting, and disseminating scholarly activity on how sport impacts the lives of girls and women.

As part of her lifelong commitment to bettering the lives of others, Dr. Tucker, a 1945 graduate of the University of Minnesota, has also established the Dorothy McNeill and Elbridge Ashcraft Tucker Chair for Women in Exercise Science and Sport. This Chair, made possible with a $1 million gift, was activated in the Fall of 1996. The significance of the Tucker Endowed Chair is that it is the first of its kind in the country, will garner national visibility/recognition for the University and the Tucker Center, will help to attract first rate graduate students, and will provide scientific excellence and national leadership.

Since its inception, the Tucker Center has provided centralization, organization, scientific excellence, and national leadership on issues of great national and local significance. Through its direction and leadership, it encourages researchers, policy makers, educators, parents and practitioners to work together to better the lives of girls and women in ways that go far beyond the playing fields.

“I am sure I have received more from the gift than has the University. The joy of giving is increased tremendously when you can see how your gift is being used during your lifetime.”

-Dr. Dorothy McNeill Tucker (December, 1996)

The Tucker Center at 20

Watch a video of the Tucker Center's significant accomplishments in its first 20 years.


The Tucker Center at 25

In honor of our 25th anniversary we asked a variety of stakeholders and Friends of the Tucker Center to state how the Tucker Center has impacted them personally or professionally, or to comment on our contributions to the field. Click here to read what people are saying about the Tucker Center...

And view a video from our 2018 Fall Distinguished Lecture featuring Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi reviewing the Tucker Center's 25 years ...

The First 25 Years

Our Founders

Dr. Dorothy McNeil TuckerDorothy McNeill Tucker established the Dorothy McNeill and Elbridge Ashcraft Tucker Chair for Women in Exercise Science and Sport in 1993. This chair - the first of its kind in the world - is the cornerstone upon which the Tucker Center is built. Dr. Tucker graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1945, majoring in recreation leadership. She went on to earn a doctorate and to become the first woman tenured at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. She continues her pioneering efforts through her commitment to the Center.

Mary Jo KaneMary Jo Kane, Ph.D., is Professor Emerita in the School of Kinesiology and the first director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota. Professor Kane received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1985 with an emphasis in sport sociology. She is an internationally recognized scholar who has published extensively on media coverage of women’s. She is also known as an expert on the passage, implementation, and impact of Title IX.

In 1996, Professor Kane was awarded the first Endowed Chair related to women in sport: The Dorothy McNeill and Elbridge Ashcraft Tucker Chair for Women in Exercise Science and Sport. Dr. Kane was elected by her peers as a Fellow in the National Academy of Kinesiology, the highest academic honor in her field, and was inducted into the Academy in the 2002. Dr. Kane is a past recipient of the Scholar of the Year Award from the Women’s Sports Foundation. In 2012, Professor Kane received a Distinguished Service Award from the Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership. This award is given to individuals who exemplify the highest levels of commitment and contributions to breaking barriers for girls and women in sports. In 2013, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Sports Educators by the Institute for International Sport.

In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Professor Kane taught a number of courses in the School of Kinesiology (Sport & Society; Sport in a Diverse Society) as well as conducted graduate seminars. Professor Kane served as the Director of the School of Kinesiology from 2005 to 2011. She has appeared on the Today Show and her research has been cited by the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post and The Nation magazine.