GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida swimming and diving program’s home pool will now be named the Ann Marie Rogers Swimming and Diving Pool thanks to a million dollar gift from Florida swimming alumna Veronica Meinhard and her wife Kristina M. Johnson, the UF’s Board of Trustees approved on Thursday.
Ann Marie Rogers served as Florida’s Associate Athletics Director from 1985-2003, and was a trailblazer for UF’s women’s athletic programs that built a reputation as one of the nation’s premier programs under her guidance and leadership.
During her 18-year stint, Florida finished among the top-10 women’s athletic programs in the nation every season, capturing seven national titles and 95 top-10 team national finishes. Individually, student-athletes also achieved substantial success, winning 76 individual NCAA titles and receiving 1,145 All-America honors.
The Lady Gators rose to the top of the Southeastern Conference, leading the league with 60 SEC Titles and 12 SEC All-Sport Trophies, doubling the next closest competitor.
The coaches she hired and guided throughout her career won national coach of the year honors 16 times, as well as winning 44 SEC Coach of the Year awards.
Additionally, Florida female student-athletes would win the Honda-Broderick Award seven times and were honored as their respective sport’s SEC Athlete of the Year 46 times during her career. The student-athletes excelled in the classroom, posting a league-high 769 SEC Academic Honor Roll and 35 Academic All-America honors.
“Ann Marie fought the early battles during the rollout of Title IX to give women opportunities that did not exist before,” said Meinhard. “In the process, she opened the doors for people like me and Kristina because of the important work she did throughout her career.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of what Veronica and Kristina are doing to name the pool in honor of Ann Marie,” said Executive Director of Gator Boosters Phil Pharr. “Veronica has a long history with this place; as a champion swimmer, student-athlete and 22 years of service to University Advancement and Gator Boosters. This gift speaks volumes of the person she is and even more so of Ann Marie. Ann Marie was a great leader in women’s athletics, at both nationally and at the University of Florida. The footprint she left on our women’s program is huge and to have her name on this pool is a fitting tribute to her legacy with the Gators.”
Rogers was involved in various organizations at a national and conference level, serving as a member of the NCAA Professional Sports Liaison Committee, NCAA Golf and Recruiting Committees, National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators and SEC Executive Committee among multiple others.
“It’s brought lots of tears of joy. I’ve been retired for quite a long time and I never expected something like this,” said Rogers.
Prior to Florida, Rogers became the first director of eight women’s sport teams at Alabama under Bear Bryant (1974-1985) and worked as a Women’s Sports Consultant (1981-82) at the SEC, spearheading the addition of women’s sports into the conference and creating policies and procedures for nine women’s SEC Championships. Rogers was also the Princeton University’s Women’s Tennis Coach (1972-73); a Smith College Physical Education Faculty Member; and in Michigan, she was a Dearborn High School teacher and coach (1969-73).
“What a tremendous tribute to Ann Marie Rogers, one of the pioneers of women’s collegiate athletics,” said Athletic Director Scott Stricklin. “Ann Marie certainly had an impact on countless student athletes, coaches and staff during her time and this gift by Veronica and Kristina speaks volumes on the extent of that impact. We are very thankful for the generous gift, but as Veronica has reminded us all, we are just as thankful for Ann Marie and her leadership and accomplishments.”
The generous donation comes from Meinhard, a four-time All-American on the women’s swimming and diving team from 1988-92, and her wife, Dr. Kristina M. Johnson, the 13th Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY).
Meinhard would work in the UF Alumni Association for six years after graduation before earning her MBA from the Universidad de Alcala de Henares in Spain. She would return to Gainesville, serving in various capacities over a 20-year span in the Office of Advancement and Gator Boosters.
She played a prominent role in the naming of the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and the creation of the inaugural Scholarship Endowment Dinner and a stewardship society for major gift donors to Gators Athletics.
Meinhard was named the Senior Executive Director for Principal Gifts and Senior Associate Athletics Director and Chief Development Office at the University of Maryland in 2015. She is currently the President and Founder at Juniper Philanthropy Partners.
Dr. Johnson was appointed Chancellor of The State University of New York in 2017. SUNY, the nation’s largest public higher education system, serves over 1.3 million students and employs more than 90,000 faculty and staff.
Prior to SUNY, she was co-founder and CEO of Cube Hydro Partners, Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy, Provost and Senior VP of Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins University (2007-09), Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University (1999-2007), and a varsity student-athlete in field hockey and lacrosse at Stanford University.
A dedication ceremony to celebrate the naming of the pool will be held in the fall. Details will be provided at a later date.
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