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April 17, 2007

Purdue Alumni Association changes to meet modern alumni needs

Kirk Cerny
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The Purdue Alumni Association has undergone an internal reorganization aimed at better meeting the needs of new alumni.

The change groups staff members into one of three main categories: engagement, finance or marketing.

Kirk Cerny, executive director and chief executive officer of the association, said the reorganization will result in efficiencies for both members and staff.

"The traditional alumni association offered alumni clubs, a quality magazine and other tangible benefits," Cerny said. "Today's graduates have a very different set of ideas about the services we should provide, including robust Internet communications and stronger alumni networking in addition to our current services."

The engagement team will handle traditional outreach activities with alumni, including clubs, academic alumni groups, reunions and travel programs, and the finance team will manage resource development and stewardship. The marketing team will focus on membership, corporate relations and communications that educate alumni about the programs and services the association offers.

Marketing also will work to establish a strong Web site presence while using more e-mail and downloadable information to reach alumni.

In addition to clearly identifying staff members' priorities, the reorganization identifies a small senior management team that will meet regularly to address the association's goals. Staff members also will have more authority to make decisions within the association.

"This plan empowers our people to make decisions on behalf of membership and operation needs," Cerny said.

Two new positions have been created as part of the changes. Dan Rhodes, the new director of corporate relations, will work to foster stronger relationships with alumni at companies nationwide and develop support for association programs.

The association also is advertising for a new creative communications director and editor who will oversee the publication of the Purdue Alumnus magazine, among other duties.

Mark Wright serves as head of the finance department as chief financial officer. Chad Johnson leads the engagement team as chief operations officer, and Nicole Reas, chief marketing officer, handles the marketing and membership team.

"The bottom line is that our services have not changed, but that we are working hard to be a better resource for alumni and friends," Cerny said. "Changing how we communicate within the organization and with our members will contribute to the longevity and usefulness of PAA."

Writer: Tanya Brown, (765) 494-2079,

Sources: Kirk Cerny, (765) 494-0764,

Nicole Reas, (765) 496-6193,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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