One university. Three campuses. Three women directors of athletics.

Pennsylvania Western University will celebrate Women’s History Month with a virtual panel discussion featuring administrators, coaches and student-athletes from the California, Clarion and Edinboro campuses at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 21.

Dr. Karen Hjerpe (California), Dr. Wendy Snodgrass (Clarion) and Dr. Katherine Robbins (Edinboro) – directors of athletics for each campus – will provide the keynote address during the panel, which will be broadcast live on PennWest’s YouTube channel.

“We have such a unique opportunity to bring together three female athletic directors as well as successful coaches and student-athletes for this event during a month that celebrates women,” Hjerpe said.

Additionally, coaches and student-athletes representing the Vulcans, Golden Eagles and Fighting Scots will discuss their experiences as female athletes and answer questions about successes and hardships each has faced in their athletic careers.

“From athletics administration to athletic training and student-athletes, our programs are represented by women from all backgrounds,” said Callie Wheeler, head coach for Edinboro women’s basketball and one of the event panelists. “It’s exciting to hear each individual’s story and how they have found success in their field or competition.”

Dr. Karen Hjerpe, California

With nearly three decades of experience within the athletic department, Hjerpe is approaching a decade as athletics director at California. She was appointed to the role in February 2014 after serving as the school’s interim athletics director for more than two years. She joined the Vulcans as the head volleyball coach in 1993 before transitioning to a career in athletic administration.

Hjerpe held the role of senior woman administrator for over 25 years and continues to serve as the department’s compliance officer after assuming the responsibilities in 1995.

In addition to her work at Cal, Hjerpe has maintained leadership roles within the PSAC and NCAA throughout her career. She served as the volleyball liaison for the conference for over 20 seasons and was the chair of the PSAC Executive Committee during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Hjerpe earned her undergraduate degree from Gannon University in accounting. She later added a pair of master’s degrees from Cal in business in 1997 and exercise science and health promotion in 2005. Hjerpe earned a Ph.D. in instructional management and leadership at Robert Morris in 2009.

Dr. Wendy Snodgrass, Clarion

When Snodgrass was named as the first female athletics director at Clarion in 2017, she was one of four women in that role across the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Previously, Snodgrass served as the university's interim athletics director, associate athletics director, senior woman administrator, compliance coordinator and Title IX deputy during her 19 years at Clarion.

In her term as associate athletics director, Snodgrass was prominent among her peers at the university and in the conference, serving as the chair of Clarion’s Intercollegiate Athletics Task Force and chair of the NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving national committee.

A native of Washington, Pennsylvania, Snodgrass earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in marketing from Westminster College in 2001. She worked as a graduate assistant in the athletic department at California from 2002-2003 and earned a Master of Education. Snodgrass earned her Doctor of Education degree in December 2015 from IUP.

Dr. Katherine Robbins, Edinboro

Robbins took over as interim director of athletics at Edinboro in May 2018, replacing Edinboro icon Bruce Baumgartner. In November 2018, Robbins became the permanent director of athletics. She previously served as assistant professor and assistant chairperson of Edinboro’s Department of Counseling, School Psychology and Special Education prior to her move to athletics.

She joined the Edinboro faculty in 2012 and began her work with student-athletes while working on her doctorate at Clemson University, where she served as a learning specialist and mentor in Clemson’s student-athlete enrichment program from 2004-2009. While an Edinboro faculty member, Robbins launched a pilot program to provide academic support and assist Edinboro’s first-year student-athletes in their transition from high school to college. The pilot was started with four students and grew to more than 40 students during the first two years.

Robbins earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Louisiana-Monroe in 1995, and in 1996 earned her master’s degree in special education. She completed work on her doctorate in Special Education from Clemson in 2010.