SEATTLE ― For the second time in the past 10 years, Washington chose continuity at the top of its athletic department over bringing in a new face from outside the school.
Washington named Jennifer Cohen as its new athletic director Tuesday after she served as the interim athletic director following Scott Woodward’s departure for Texas A&M. University President Ana Mari Cauce announced Cohen’s appointment as the 15th athletic director in school history and second female athletic director in the past 25 years. Barbara Hedges served in the position from 1991-2004.
Cohen is just the third female athletic director of a Power Five Football Bowl Subdivision school along with Sandy Barbour at Penn State and Debbie Yow at North Carolina State. Cohen will officially take over June 1.
Washington is the only Pac-12 school with women serving as school president and athletic director.
“She has all the skills and energy to provide exceptional leadership for Husky athletics,” Cauce said in a statement. “Her years of experience leading its fundraising program, along with her direct involvement overseeing football, provide a strong foundation for assuming overall leadership for the department. This is the right time for her, and I look forward to a very exciting time for our students, coaches and fans of Husky athletics.”
Cohen served as a senior associate athletic director under Woodward and was a driving force behind the renovation of Husky Stadium. She was also involved in development efforts for projects including renovations of Hec Edmundson Pavilion and Conibear Shellhouse and the construction of the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility. Most of her 18 years at Washington have been spent overseeing fundraising efforts for the Huskies athletic programs.
Washington went through a similar process when Woodward was hired as the permanent AD in 2008. Woodward held the role on an interim basis after Todd Turner was fired and eventually took the job full time.
“I am humbled, honored, and extremely thankful for this opportunity,” Cohen said. “The University of Washington has been part of my life for nearly two decades, and I believe our department is poised to accomplish great things.”
Cohen is well-liked by Washington boosters and has earned raves from football coach Chris Petersen during their two seasons working together after Petersen was hired from Boise State. Cohen was the only other Washington employee to accompany Woodward to Boise, Idaho, the night Petersen was offered the job in December 2013.
A native of Tacoma, Washington, Cohen graduated from San Diego State in 1991 and received her master’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University in 1994.