Kris Dunbar has been selected as the seventh commissioner of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) following a nationwide search.
Dunbar arrives from Lake Superior State University following 24 years of service as a student-athlete, basketball coach and currently in her 10th year as director of athletics. Dunbar will step down from her position at LSSU at the end of April and take over commissioner duties on May 1.
"Kris Dunbar has the skills and abilities that make her a great fit for the GLIAC Commissioner position," stated Saginaw Valley State University President and GLIAC Council of Presidents Chair, Dr. Donald J. Bachand. "She has demonstrated great vision and leadership ability as Director of Athletics at Lake Superior State. Her knowledge and history with the GLIAC will serve her well in the process of moving the GLIAC forward."
Dunbar replaces Dell Robinson, who served as GLIAC Commissioner from 2009-10 through 2015-16. Prior to Robinson, the GLIAC was led by John Hoekje (1971-72 to 1978-79), Herbert "Pete" Peterson (1979-80 to 1984-85), Tom Donahue (1985-86 to 1986-87), Vern Norris (1987-88 to 1991-92) and Tom Brown (1992-93 to 2008-09).
"I would like to thank Dr. Don Bachand and the search committee for the opportunity to lead one of the most-prominent conferences in NCAA Division II," Dunbar said. "I am humbled and honored to be the next GLIAC commissioner."
Dunbar served five years (2011-15) on the NCAA Division II Management Council. During that time, she also served on the D2 Championships and Identity sub-committees. She has chaired both the GLIAC and Western Collegiate Hockey Association executive committees.
"The GLIAC will have a bit different look next year and we anticipate more changes in the future, but we will continue to be a viable, national-caliber conference like we have been for the past four decades," Dunbar added. "I look forward to sharing ideas to bring growth, heightened regional and national leverage, and increased viability to the GLIAC."
Dunbar is a Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., native who was inducted into the LSSU Sports Hall of Fame in the Fall of 2016. She was a four-year starting guard and three-year co-captain for the Lakers from 1988-92. During her eight-year stint (1998-06) as head women's basketball coach and senior women's administrator, Dunbar led the Lakers to a 154-72 record, including five straight 20-win seasons and five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Dunbar was named GLIAC and Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year in 2002, and Women's Basketball Coaches Association Michigan College Coach of the Year in 2003. She was also named the GLIAC's top coach in 2005 after winning her fourth straight GLIAC North Division title. She led the Lakers to GLIAC Tournament titles in 2003 and '04. The Lakers reached the NCAA Midwest Regional finals in 2004.
"While we as athletic directors are all working on behalf of our schools, we ultimately want to make the GLIAC proud and bring national exposure to our conference. Every conference member plays an important role in making that happen. I plan to help them continue toward that goal," said Dunbar.
Dunbar earned a master's degree in education from Elmira College in 1997 and served as an assistant coach at LSSU in 1997-98. Kris and her husband, Al, have two sons, Tyler and Jaylen. In 2011, Dunbar joined her father as a member of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.
The commissioner search was conducted by Athletics Staffing and Consultants (ASC), which provides colleges, universities and conferences special consulting expertise in a multitude of areas which includes commissioner searches. Dr. Kurt Patberg led the hiring efforts on behalf of ASC.
The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will feature 12 member institutions from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana sponsoring 21 NCAA Division II sports beginning in 2017-18. With Davenport and Purdue Northwest scheduled to compete in the GLIAC starting with the 2017-18 academic year, the conference also will consist of Ashland University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Northwood University, Saginaw Valley State University, Tiffin University and Wayne State University.