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Our own Olympic gold medalist

This photo of Pat Pitney and the other members of the 1984 US air rifle team hangs in her office along with her gold medal winning target.

VP Pat Pitney watches Games with the eye of a champion

Did you know the UA System Office has its own U.S. Olympic champion, right here in the Butrovich Building?

Pat Pitney, UA’s vice president for planning and budget development, secured the first Olympic gold for the United States during the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles in the air rifle shooting event.

Karen (Pat) Spurgin (her maiden name) was the first Olympic champion in air rifle for women. At the time she was only 18 years old and a student at Murray State University in Kentucky, home to one of the nation’s top rifle programs. She had already won an individual NCAA title when she secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

A rifle range in Murray, Kentucky, the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range, is named in her honor.

Pitney doesn’t talk about her Olympic days too much – she’s too busy with her active family and career – but shooting continues to be a passion. She closely watched the Beijing Olympics, especially UAF alums Matt Emmons and Jaime Beyerle. She has volunteered as an assistant coach for the UAF Nanook Rifle Team for the past two decades. The team, it should go without saying, has won the NCAA Rifle Championship 10 times since the mid-1990s.

Pitney is married to former UAF Athletic Director Randy Pitney. The couple have three children; Kimberly, an economics and international relations major at UAA; Crystal, a former West Valley High cross-country standout and four time women’s Midnight Sun Run winner now attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins; and Logan, a West Valley High sophomore, active in baseball, cross-country running and skiing.

She’s been at the system office for the past 18 years, overseeing budget development, institutional research and strategic planning. She may not talk about her Olympic gold medal much, but she’s a real winner in the eyes of her staff and many colleagues throughout the system!

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