Fran Shields was named Connecticut College’s fourth director of athletics in July 2003. He joined the Department of Athletics in the fall of 1980 as head coach of men’s lacrosse and head athletic trainer and during his time in that position built the varsity men’s lacrosse program into a nationally-ranked program. He was named national (USILA) Coach of the Year in 1993.
Shields has led the intercollegiate programs to improved competitive success in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and oversaw a $16 million transformation of the athletics facilities at Connecticut College, including the construction of the Artificial Turf at Silfen Field, the Ann & Lee Higdon Fitness Center, the renovation of the South Tennis Courts, and improvements to the waterfront for sailing and rowing.
He oversees 28 intercollegiate varsity programs with over 500 student-athletes practicing and competing in several major facilities used by teams and the local community. He supervises 18 adjunct faculty head coaches, 16 assistant coaches, and nine support staff, including four certified athletic trainers, the sports information director, coordinator of the athletic department/business manager, coordinator of athletics operations, and two ice arena employees.
Shields has made significant contributions to campus life as a member of the first Presidential Task Force on Athletics in 2002, the President’s Commission on a Pluralistic Community in 2003, the Connecticut College Strategic Planning Committee in 2004 and the Strategic Plan Implementation Committee in 2017. He also serves on the College’s Master Plan Steering Committee. He led the athletics department to be named the “Think S.A.F.E. Partner of the Year” in 2012 as the men’s ice hockey team began the “Green Dot Game” to raise awareness for sexual violence prevention. Shields has worked to educate all student-athletes on campus in Green Dot training and to fight homophobia in athletics and promote the “You Can Play” program.
Shields has been very active at all levels of sport. At the national level, he has served as Chair of the NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Committee (2011-12) and as a committee member in 2009 and 2010. At the conference level, he has been a member of the NESCAC AD Executive Committee since 2011, and chaired the conference in 2011-2012 and 2012-13. He has served on the NESCAC committee on the NCAA Sportsmanship and Woman of the Year selection since 2008.
Shields earned a bachelor of science degree in Physical Education from St. Lawrence University in 1979 and a master of science degree in Physical Education from Ithaca College in 1985. He was captain and second team All-American at attack at St. Lawrence in the 1979. He graduated with the school’s all-time record for points scored. He has been inducted into the St. Lawrence University Athletics Hall of Fame twice and is also a member of the Geneva, New York, Athletics Hall of Fame.