A New Chapter for Me and Our Alma Mater - July 2014

Three years ago I left employment in the private sector and leaped into the world of higher education. It provided an enriching opportunity for me to serve my alma mater, to help energize our alumni association and to reengage many of our alums – connecting them back to the University of Oregon in new, fresh and exciting ways. Then a year ago, another tremendous opportunity at the university was presented to me. 

After our vice president for University Relations left to take a position at the University of Chicago, a reorganization took place. With it came intentional focus by our Communications and Marketing department to tell the unique story of the UO. Those of you who know me recognize that this is exactly what I’ve done for nearly thirty years for a variety of clients in the banking, healthcare, restaurant and retail industries. The opportunity to use my professional skills to tell the world about my wonderful alma mater was too fulfilling and rewarding to pass up. 

The University of Oregon has plenty of awareness and recognition of its athletic excellence and success (which is far different from the early ’80s when I was here). The goal for my new, second team of coworkers has been to develop an integrated communication initiative designed to aggressively tell our state, nation and the world about the academic excellence of our alma mater. This project began a year ago, and we recently hired a nationally recognized agency to help develop bold and creative messaging.

I ended up holding down the two jobs, as I continued as the executive director of the University of Oregon Alumni Association (UOAA) and assumed the role of associate vice president for communications, marketing and brand management at the UO. Needless to say, it’s been a long year. But it now comes to an end, and I’m thankful for the support of so many during this hectic time. 

I am thankful for the UOAA board. Working together, we launched a bold and visionary, new strategic plan that is continuing to shape our organization. I am also thankful for the UOAA staff. This dedicated team kept pushing along, making sure we were implementing our plan, serving our alumni and advancing our mission to make our alma mater stronger by encouraging and fostering many more alumni connections and relationships. 

Finally, I am thankful to my family that I haven’t seen much this past year. Thank you for your ongoing and committed love, faith and support. 

As of July 1, Paul Clifford has taken the reins of the UOAA as executive director and associate vice president of Regional Alumni Engagement. Paul is an innovator in alumni relations, and that’s what we need. You see, the reorganization is transforming how the UO engages its alumni and how our alums engage with the university. We want a seamless strategy for all who support this wonderful institution. I look forward to working with Paul, and the team, as we animate this visionary approach to building lifelong relationships with our alumni community. 

The past three years have flown quickly. It has truly been an honor to serve my fellow alumni and the UOAA board of directors. I have been amazed at the bonds Lisa and I have made with hundreds of alums we’ve met. These bonds are because we share the experience of graduating from this remarkable university. All because we are Ducks. 

Thank you for letting me share about my life, my family and my passionate love for the UO; it has been an honor to publish these columns. You can still follow my writings in my new blog, “Always a Duck." I have appreciated your encouragement and will continue to welcome any thoughts you might like to share. 

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and our alma mater. I look forward to our next chapter. 

All the best to you. Go Ducks!