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Alumna, Longtime Coach Swanson Provides Transformative Gift to Northeastern

Dec 20, 2012, 8:56 AM EDT

Few women have accomplished more at Northeastern than Janet Swanson. Her time as an athlete and coach on Huntington Avenue was focused on providing opportunities for women to grow, to achieve, and to flourish. More than 20 years after retiring from coaching at the university, Swanson continues to make a meaningful difference in the lives of women athletes.

This fall, Swanson became the first donor in Northeastern history to make a six-figure gift to women’s athletics — a fitting celebration of the 40th anniversary of the landmark Title IX legislation. She pointed to the growth and direction of the Northeastern program for the motivation behind her philanthropic gesture.

“The development of the department over the last few years, and the direction of the department in general, is what inspired me to make this gift,” Swanson said.

A portion of Swanson’s gift will support the athletic department’s summer bridge program — which enables student-athletes to enroll in summer session classes to remain on pace to graduate. The summer bridge program has helped Northeastern achieve an NCAA Academic Progress Rate well above its national peers.

“I appreciate the commitment of the administration and the focus placed on education. Education is so important, and that’s something I felt I could help with,” Swanson noted. “Educationally, Northeastern has become one of the top schools in the country. It’s always been a forerunner because of the co-op program. As difficult as it was for student-athletes to juggle athletics and co-op, it dovetailed well. It gave them a better understanding of responsibility and time.”

Swanson’s gift also continues a legacy of advocating for the continued enhancement and awareness of women’s sports at the university. Her generosity will enhance opportunities for women athletes at Northeastern and will offer increased visibility for the programs and their accomplishments.

“We truly are humbled by Janet’s generosity and we are fortunate that she continues to play an active role in the life of this department,” said Peter Roby, director of athletics and recreation. “Her leadership helped position Northeastern as a leader in women’s athletics and her mentorship positively impacted the lives of countless student-athletes. She is a true friend to Northeastern and a wonderful role model for our staff and students.”

Swanson, a “Double Husky,” earned an undergraduate degree in recreational therapy from the university in 1974 and a master of science degree in recreational therapy rehabilitation in 1976. Her legendary career as an athlete and coach earned her induction into the Northeastern Hall of Fame in 1994. She was a four-sport athlete at the university, competing in field hockey, swimming, tennis and lacrosse. In the pool, she represented NU as a finalist in backstroke at the New England Championships.

For more on Swanson and her gift to Northeastern athletics visit