First Female Athletic Director To Assume Position July 1
Bluefield University is pleased to announce that Ms. Tonia Walker will serve as the new full-time athletic director. Walker is the first female to serve in this role in the history of Bluefield University. A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, 2019, at 1 p.m. in the Chandler Boardroom located on the third floor of Lansdell Hall on Bluefield University’s campus.
Walker comes to Bluefield University after serving 18 years in athletic leadership at Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Bluefield University received almost 80 highly qualified applications. The 10-member search committee composed of students, faculty, and athletic department representatives, conducted its search over three months. Ms. Walker became the candidate of choice from among a strong group of finalists by presenting a detailed game plan for success for the future of Rams Athletics.
“I am extremely grateful, honored, and humbled to serve Bluefield University as its first full-time dedicated director of athletics. I am grateful to the students, coaches, faculty, staff, and administrators who were a part of the selection process, for having the confidence in me to lead the Bluefield University Rams. It is indeed an honor to work for an institution that emphasizes a Christ-centered learning community that develops transformational servant leaders, and I look forward to creating a vision for the athletic department that will reflect that mission. I value the opportunity to work with young people at such a transitional time in their lives, all while leading coaches who will have an impact on and will shape students into strong community leaders. I consider it a privilege to be joining the Bluefield University team to build on the great story that began back in 1922,” said Walker.
Prior to accepting her role at Bluefield University, Walker served as Director of Athletics at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) and placed her own stamp of leadership on their athletic programs. An integral figure in the university’s transition from NCAA Division II to Division I (football championship subdivision) status and later reclassification back to Division II, she brought a wealth of knowledge of intercollegiate athletics to WSSU. Walker came to WSSU after completing a seven-year stint with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) headquarters office where she began her career in 1993.
Walker’s influence in competitive excellence guided WSSU to eight NCAA Division II tournament appearances, as well as fifteen CIAA championship titles, including volleyball and women’s outdoor track’s first-time championships in school history, nine CIAA divisional titles and eight Coach of the Year honors. Twenty-eight CIAA championships were claimed by Winston-Salem State University sports teams over the past eight years of which Walker was an integral part of during her tenure at WSSU. Fundraising marks were also set under Walker’s leadership at WSSU as she was able to raise in excess of $1.5 million for program operations.
Named the 2015-16 CIAA Athletic Director of the Year and the 2016 Administrator of the Year for the National Association for Collegiate Athletics Administrators, Walker works to continuously advocate for student-athletes and opportunities for women and minorities. She believes strongly in the power of service and galvanized staff and students at WSSU to amass 3,000 community service hours annually.
She was one of eight participants around the country selected for the NCAA Fellows Leadership Development Program. In addition, she is currently a member of the Women’s Leaders in University Sports (formerly NACWAA) and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA), as well as the Black Women Sports Foundation.
Walker is a 2004 graduate of the NACWAA/HERS Institute and 2005 NACWAA Executive Institute, serving to enhance opportunities for women to move into positions as athletics directors or conference commissioners. She was named the 2008 NACWAA recipient of the Nell Jackson Award bestowed annually to an athletic administrator who exemplifies the qualities of Dr. Nell Jackson.
Walker currently serves as chair of the Western Triad Region Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is an active member of the board of directors for the Fulton YMCA and Old Hickory Council Boy Scouts of America. She recently completed an appointment as a board member for Women Leaders in University Sports and a 4-year term on the NCAA Division II Membership Committee. Prior to her retirement, she served as president of the CIAA Management Council, NCAA Division II Athletic Directors Association, Women Leaders in University Sports Board of Directors, and president of the CIAA Athletic Director’s Association. Walker is a 2017 graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem and is committed to community engagement and leadership.
Tonia attended Hampton University as a two-sport athlete, playing basketball and softball and departed the university as a member of the 1993 CIAA Softball Championship Team, All-Region, and All-America softball performer. She graduated with honors, receiving a bachelor’s degree in communicative sciences and disorders and went on to attend Old Dominion University to attain her Master of Science in recreation and sports administration.
Tonia is married to Wayne Walker, Sr., of Petersburg, VA. They have two children, Daijah (23) and Wayne, Jr. (22), and one granddaughter, Skylar (3).
Walker will begin her leadership of Bluefield University Athletics on July 1, 2019.