Bill Gehling Honored with Hosea Ballou Medal

Former athletics director receives award for exceptional service to the university

Bill Gehling, Anthony Monaco, John Bello and Varney Hintlian

Bill Gehling, A74, AG79, A05P, received not one but two awards from the Athletics Department and Tufts University on Oct. 9: the Distinguished Achievement Award and the Hosea Ballou Medal.

Both reflect deep appreciation. The former director of athletics, Bill has been at Tufts for more than four decades as a student, soccer coach and administrator.

The Hosea Ballou Medal is a rare honor, given only to members of the Tufts community “who have rendered exceptional service for the institution.” Before last week’s announcement, it had been awarded only 15 times since the trustees established it in 1939. Past recipients include former President Jean Mayer, H93, and Adele Fleet Bacow.

While he knew he was receiving the Distinguished Achievement Award―and he’d come to the annual athletics awards event with his speech in hand―Gehling was surprised to hear President Anthony Monaco make the surprise announcement.

“I was blown away,” says Gehling. “I feel like I didn’t set out to do any of this. I was just always trying to do a good job each day. So many people contributed to my years here―I’m not any more special than any of them.”

Eric Johnson, vice president for University Advancement, says Gehling, who is now a member of UA’s senior management team, has made an enormous difference in the life of the university. “The Ballou Medal is meant to recognize someone who has greatly added to campus life though their work and values,” says Johnson. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving.”

Gehling was an all-star soccer player at Tufts, graduating in 1974 with a B.A. in child development; he also earned an M.Ed. at the university. In 1979, he began a 20-year tenure as coach of the new women’s soccer program, guiding the Jumbos to the NCAA national quarterfinals in 1998, his final season. He was appointed Tufts’ fifth director of athletics in 1999.

Under his leadership, the Jumbo varsity sports program consistently ranked among the best in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup, which awards points to schools based upon their finishes in NCAA events. Out of more than 400 NCAA Division III institutions, Tufts placed ninth for 2014-15 and has been among the top 10 eight times overall. The Jumbo men’s soccer, men’s lacrosse and softball teams won NCAA championships in 2014-15, while track athlete Mitchell Black won NCAA individual titles in the 800 meters, both indoor and outdoor.

Outstanding facility improvements have also marked Gehling’s tenure. The Bacow Sailing Pavilion was dedicated in October 2013. The Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center opened in 2012, and the university renovated Cousens Gymnasium in 2009. Shoemaker Boathouse on the Malden River opened in 2006. Bello Field, home for field hockey and lacrosse along with several other purposes, opened in 2004.

Laura Ferguson can be reached at

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