Educating by Example (1933– ); Years at UO: 1960-1996
In a league of her own, Lois Youngen played a significant role at the University of Oregon during her 36-year tenure. A native of Ohio, Youngen grew up accustomed to paving her own path. Youngen played baseball throughout her childhood and joined the famous All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1951, primarily as a catcher. She remained in the league until in folded in 1954 as a member of the Kenosha Comets, Fort Wayne Daisies and South Bend Blue Sox teams during her four-year career.
Youngen completed her education while playing professional baseball and went on to receive a graduate degree at Michigan State. An adventurer from the beginning, Youngen joined the University of Oregon staff in 1960 as a women’s physical education instructor. An athlete herself, she oversaw the women’s track and field and tennis teams for brief periods. She also taught a variety of recreational activities, including badminton. She was always one to take on a challenge, whether it entailed racing one of her male students in the 1970s, or pushing for recreational programs to be open to the community in the 1980s.
In 1971, Youngen earned her doctorate degree from Ohio State University and continued to be a key leader on campus. In the early years of Title IX, she worked with Mike Reuter of the men’s activities program to develop a coeducational activity program. Despite all of the obstacles involved with the process, She stated that convincing teachers to lead co-educational classes was the most difficult element of her experience with Title IX. Youngen led by example, often playing in pick-up recreational games with the men, while also working for equal opportunities in the classroom.
Throughout the years, Youngen phased out her coaching duties and concentrated on teaching physical education courses and assuming a greater leadership role in the Physical Education department. Always interested in assisting wherever she could, she also helped Bill Bowerman lead the initial jogging/running classes on campus.
In the 1990s Youngen focused on her duties as the Director of Physical Activities and Recreation Services (PARS). Always looking for new ways to improve the program, Youngen instituted facility rental options to help cover the department’s costs and pushed to implement an absentee policy for PARS programs. She also assumed an integral role in securing funding for what would become the Student Recreation Center (SRC). Her efforts came to fruition at the end of her career and after 36 years with the University, she retired in 1996.
When asked what the best part of her experience at the University of Oregon was, Youngen stated that the fact that she never had a bad term of teaching topped it all. To Youngen, being an educator was all about being an excellent teacher. From leading 26 different recreational and athletic activities to teaching every physical education course under the sun, she went above and beyond for her students.
Youngen has remained active in the community and still has a passion for teaching. She also can be occasionally spotted at a baseball game or playing tennis.