KUC Blog: Jim Phillips comes to Kenilworth Union Church

by Margaret Ann Fowler

As our Faith and Leadership series title implies the two are possible. Our series of speakers have shared how being a leader in business and being true to one’s faith may be challenging but is possible. Our next speaker, Jim Phillips, comes to us as a leader in in the field of college athletics.

Full disclosure: I am a die-hard college basketball fan. One might even say I have a ‘religious devotion to the sport’. And true confession—I also follow college football. Therefore, when I had the opportunity, as a staff member at Kellogg, to hear Northwestern’s Athletic Director speak I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed.

Sports can teach us—athletes and fans—important life lessons about respecting honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, fair play and developing skills for dealing with adversity. What makes sports so exciting is the spectacle of God-given talents channeled toward a goal. Learning how to play as a team member teaches life lessons. Even Paul in first Corinthians uses sports metaphors to teach spiritual truths.

Jim is the Athletic Director at Northwestern University and leads Northwestern’s 19 sport program in the nation’s #3 market. Jim is one of 10 children and grew up on Chicago’s northwest side. His deep Windy City roots and family orientation are an integral part of his core philosophy of providing student athletes with a ‘world class experience’ that enables them to thrive academically, socially and athletically.

Jim graduated from the University of Illinois where he started his career as a manager and student assistant in the athletic department. He earned a Master’s degree at Arizona State while a restricted earnings basketball coach there. While there the Sun Devils reached the post season five straight years. Jim also holds a Ph.D. in educational administration from Tennessee. He has served in the athletic departments of Tennessee and Notre Dame.

Come meet Jim and hear how his faith impacts his decisions as he leads Northwestern sports and recreation. I promise you a winner!