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Magazine On-line [fall 2011]
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Front of Alumni and Development building
New location for alumni and development office helps staff better serve Transylvania’s constituencies

By William A. Bowden

Elaine Valentine and Kirk Purdom
Administrative assistant Elaine Valentine and vice president for advancement Kirk Purdom confer in the reception area.

Alumni and other visitors to the new alumni and development building are greeted by a spacious facility that gives the staff more room and amenities with which to serve the many constituencies of the university.

Meeting space for alumni reunion committees and other groups that is outfitted with technology for presentations, larger offices that can accommodate more visitors, a reception area with guest seating, and an office specially for student workers are among the advantages the new dedicated location on the north side of campus has over the former office suite on the first floor of Old Morrison.

front entrance
 Winn Turney ’65 talks with assistant director of alumni programs Tracy Dunn ’90, center, and director of alumni programs Natasa Pajic Mongiardo ’96 on the front porch of the new alumni and development building.

“This building gives us the opportunity to really expand our programming in fund-raising and alumni relations,” said Kirk Purdom, vice president for advancement. “We have a lot more flexibility now. It’s also a very inviting building for alumni and friends to visit, and for our students. It’s just a more professional space in all respects.”

The 5,670-square-foot building, which faces North Broadway just two doors north of Fourth Street, includes offices and meeting rooms on the ground level and a basement currently being used for storage that will eventually be finished for purposes such as phonathons.

The facility was purchased by the university from the Boy Scouts of America-Bluegrass Council in 2008 and underwent an extensive renovation that included a new heating and air conditioning system as well as reconfiguring of walls to create optimum spaces for the 12 staff members. New carpeting and windows, added insulation, fresh paint, and enhanced technology completed the transformation.

Alumni have made good use of the office since its August opening. The Bluegrass Alumni Chapter and the Transylvania Women’s Club board held meetings that used both the conference room and a large meeting and work-space area in the rear of the building. Both spaces include projectors and large screens for presentations.

conference room
Dunn  and Mongiardo meet with members of the Bluegrass Alumni Chapter Board, from left, Will Freeman ’05, Jean Fudold Smith ’69, and E’Corbin Crutcher ’47 in the conference room.

“The executive board and members of the Bluegrass Alumni Chapter were really pleased to have this kind of meeting space that is part of our offices, instead of having to meet elsewhere on campus,” said Natasa Pajic Mongiardo ’96, director of alumni programs. “We also have the capability for conference calls and Skype to accommodate people who can’t attend in person.”

Phonathons are a major fund-raising tool for the annual fund. The training required for them to be successful can now be accommodated in the new offices. A large area in the back of the suite, circled by offices, can handle sessions for students, faculty, and staff who take part in phonathons. With the completion of renovations in the lower level, phonathons themselves will take place there.

lunch table
The Bluegrass Chapter board holds a lunchtime meeting in the back area.

As Transylvania moves forward with fund-raising efforts designed to support a planned increased enrollment to about 1,500, along with the expansion of academic and student life programs to accommodate that growth, the development staff is spending more time on the road visiting current and potential donors. Still, there are always opportunities to host donors in the alumni and development offices, and that’s another area where the new facility really shines.

“When donors come to see us, they expect a certain type of atmosphere,” Purdom said. “When you enter our building, we project a very professional, business-like environment, probably similar to what they have in their own businesses. We can also plug the computer in and show them a presentation on screen. When we’re working with an individual or corporations and foundations about a potential gift, all of these factors are significant.”

Donors, alumni, and others coming to the alumni and development offices can now come directly to a discrete building, as opposed to locating the offices within a larger building. Parking is available in the front and rear of the building. When they arrive, they find a reception area and seating that the former location could not offer.

office lobby
Katie Wilson Conrad ’99, left, and Emily Heady Morris ’03 relax in the reception area

“I just love the fact that when we have alumni visitors, we have a place for them to sit and browse yearbooks while they’re waiting,” Mongiardo said. “It’s such a community space where they may also interact with more staff members and get to know us better. We certainly welcome all alumni to pay us a visit.”

Student philanthropy is another area where the new facility is having a positive effect. The Student Alumni Association and the Senior Challenge committee can meet in the offices, and all students who visit the area come into more contact with the professional staff and have exposure to the concepts and benefits of philanthropy.

In their everyday work situations, members of the alumni and development staff are enjoying and benefitting from the more spacious offices and work areas.

“This is my second experience at moving out of a main administration building and into a facility just for alumni and development,” Purdom said. “I feel we’re now getting our jobs done a little more quickly and efficiently.”

“In our old offices, our refrigerator was in a filing cabinet,” Mongiardo laughed. “We now have a nice kitchen area, and also a separate room for our main files. With the space between our offices, I can leave my door open and not be distracted by people outside my office. It’s really a nice environment where people enjoy coming to work.”

From the mundane—more storage space and room to expand—to the conceptual—a more professional space and appearance that stimulate staff and create better visitor impressions—the new alumni and development office is fulfilling its role to enhance fund-raising and alumni relations to advance Transylvania in all respects.

“I love this building,” Purdom said. “I hope we get to stay in it a long time.”

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