Editor’s note: This story is part of ‘Meet a UChicagoan,’ a regular series focusing on the people who make UChicago a distinct intellectual community. Read about the others here.
When Rosalie “Rosy” Resch stepped off the plane at Chicago Midway Airport the fall of 1969, she wasn’t quite sure where to go. No one else from her high school class of nearly 500 had left Minnesota for college. Her parents couldn’t afford to miss work to drive her to the University of Chicago, so they booked her a solo flight.
Naive and a little shy, she stood near the airport cab stand as a man yelled: “Rogers Park! Downtown! Hyde Park!”
“I had never been out of Minnesota or Wisconsin, been on an airplane, or taken a cab before, and I had no idea where I was going—I just had an address,” recalled Resch, AB’73. She had chosen to attend UChicago because everyone back home in Minneapolis was so excited about her admittance. She didn’t want to disappoint anyone. “I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.”
Resch eventually caught that cab to Hyde Park. Fifty-two years later, she hasn’t just found her place. A longtime UChicago administrator who has also been a student-athlete, coach, associate professor and interim athletic director, she has helped create an enduring community.
“UChicago is in her DNA. She is such a core fabric of the University, I don’t even think it’s fully understood,” said Erin McDermott, UChicago’s former director of athletics and recreation. Now Harvard University’s first female athletics director, McDermott said Resch offers a “sense of home” that is especially welcome in a pressure-packed environment: “She is this comforting voice, and a person that students can be comfortable and real with.”
Everyone knows who Rosy is—even those who have broken through the glass ceiling of professional baseball.
“What can I say about Coach Resch? Her love for the school and the students runs deep,” said Kim Ng, AB’90, who was captain of the Maroon softball team and is now with the Miami Marlins, where she is Major League Baseball’s first female general manager. “She was unequivocally and consistently one of the most selfless, steadfastly principled, and proud ambassadors of the University of Chicago. She is definitely one of my favorite people that I encountered during my time there.”
Now in her 47th year as a University staff member, Resch isn’t done yet. After serving as interim athletics director for the 2020-21 academic year due to McDermott’s departure, Resch has resumed her role as senior associate athletic director for finance and internal operations, where she is aiding in the transition of the department’s new leader, Angie Torain.
Plus, she’s not quite ready for “legacy” talk. “I’m too short for a legacy,” Resch, who stands about 5-foot-3, said with a grin.
From a teacher emerges a leader
Looking through files one day during her seven-year tenure as athletic director, McDermott uncovered old student evaluations of Resch as an archery teacher. At the time, physical education was a College requirement at UChicago—which meant that students who had little to no interest in athletics often found themselves under Resch’s tutelage.
“They were just glowing about Rosy as a teacher and as an instructor, Rosy as a mentor for them at the University, how much she meant to them—it was really moving,” McDermott recalled.
“It helped me understand the student experience a lot more,” Resch said of her teaching.