During her 30-year career as a professor of health, physical education and recreation at UNM, Dr. Frances McGill became a major contributor and pioneer of national importance to her profession, as well as a mentor, advisor and friend to thousands of UNM students, both men and women.
Dr. McGill joined UNM’s physical education department in 1945 as a full professor. She became the de facto director of women’s athletics, inaugurating multi-sport competition for Lobo women with other university teams from Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Wyoming and Utah, as well as other New Mexico schools. McGill’s efforts led to the eventual formation of the High Country Athletic Conference, which was later absorbed by the Western Athletic Conference.
In addition to her impressive contributions to UNM and the state of New Mexico, Dr. McGill’s accomplishments in the field of women’s athletics on a national level covered a spectrum that includes sports medicine research and physiological study, writing, lecturing, coaching, teaching and pioneering in the development of women’s intercollegiate competition.
Dr. McGill authored and published more than 40 studies and research articles connected with women’s sports and served as the national chairperson for several boards. In 1966, in advance of the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Dr. McGill organized and chaired the world’s first international symposium on altitude physiology, a “breakthrough” conference that was held at UNM.
Dr. McGill retired from UNM in 1975.