Joel Smilow of the Class of 1954 endows three key coaching positions at Yale

Yale University has received a leadership donation to endow three varsity athletic team coaching positions. Joel E. Smilow, a member of the Yale Class of 1954 and the former Chairman, CEO and President of Playtex Products Inc., has contributed the permanent funding for the head coaches of men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and women’s lacrosse. This marks the first time that women’s sports at the University will have endowed coaching positions.

The positions are named The Joel E. Smilow Class of 1954 Coach of Men’s Basketball, The Joel E. Smilow Class of 1954 Coach of Women’s Basketball, and the Joel E. Smilow Class of 1954 Coach of Women’s Lacrosse in recognition of matching funds that will be provided through a Class of 1954 challenge gift.

“Joel Smilow’s extraordinary generosity, combined with his love of sports, is helping to ensure that we can continue to offer Yale men and women athletic opportunities that are an appropriate complement to the exceptional caliber of our academic programs,” said Yale President Richard C. Levin. “At Yale, intercollegiate sports make an important contribution to liberal education.”

One of Yale’s most committed alumni – both as a volunteer and donor – Mr. Smilow served as National Chairman of Leadership and Major Gifts during the “…and for Yale” Campaign, and has also been a member of the Yale Development Board and of the Governing Board of the Association of Yale Alumni. In 1993, he received the Yale Medal, the University’s highest award for service, and he has also been named a Sterling Fellow for his extraordinary financial contributions. Currently Secretary of the Class of 1954, Smilow has made significant donations to Yale sports programs. Most notably, in 1988 he endowed the head football coach position, and in 1992 he was the lead donor for the renovation of the Yale Bowl field house, now known as the Joel E. Smilow Field Center.

“I am delighted to be able to again contribute to the continued vitality of sports at Yale. Solid athletic programs are an integral part of the very broad objective of attracting, educating and motivating people with the potential of being tomorrow’s leaders,” said Smilow, a longtime sports fan and advocate of athletics. At Yale, he participated in freshman crew and tennis, managed the varsity squash team, and served as sports director of WYBC, the student-run radio station.

“Mr. Smilow believes in leadership and he so generously provides it,” said Yale Director of Athletics Thomas Beckett. “We are honored to name three new coaching positions after this very special Yale Man.”

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