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September 2008

Taking the lead

Only a few weeks into the job, Linda Carter already has a handle on the big picture.

Carter is the new assistant vice chancellor of alumni relations and executive director of the Alumni Association. But she's no stranger to UNCG.

Many alumni may know her from her role as the director of development for the School of Nursing. Prior to coming to UNCG, Carter worked in benefactor relations at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

But her first higher education positions were in alumni relations. At The Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago she got her start as the assistant director of alumni relations. She followed that with a position as director of alumni relations for the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Working with alumni comes naturally.

“I never stopped doing alumni relations,” she says. “Everyone who has passion and love for this institution is an alumni relations person.”

Being an alumni relations person means understanding that alumni today have different expectations than 50 years ago.

The key word these days is “affinity.” How do alumni see themselves? As members of a particular class year or as members of a specific type of group?

“We need to let alumni identify how they see themselves, whether by region, career, academic unit, where they are in life, race, gender, special interests — I'd love to see if there are any UNCG quilters or gardeners out there. The world is our stage. We want to create meaningful relationships.”

To that end, Carter wants to capitalize on campus events and on the talents of faculty and other alumni to draw graduates back to campus.

“I hope all alumni want to be continual learners,” she says.

Another major component will be connecting students and alumni. “Students need to be aware of the shoes they are filling,” Carter says. Our alumni have changed society, and someday students will too.

Finally, Carter advocates creating a culture of philanthropy — and not just with financial resources. She wants to see alumni giving their time and talent as well.

“We're stewarding a centuries-old campus,” she says. What alumni do now will impact what this university becomes in the next 100 years.

She likes to quote former Greensboro mayor Jim Melvin, who said our responsibility — when we walk through the door of an institution — is to make it a better place before we walk back out.

“Alumni are very unique,” she says. “Their investment is lifelong.”





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