On the Job: Jeff Johnson

What is your title and how long have you been with the UI?

I'm director of alumni affairs at the Urbana-Champaign campus. The position isn't a new one, but is now half an alumni association position and half a UI position. I've been on the job since July 22.

What is your background?

I have worked in higher education for 13 years. The first eight years, 1983 through 1991, were spent at the University of Southern Mississippi, where I served as an admissions recruiter intern, admission counselor, student alumni adviser, legislative assistant and assistant to the director of alumni affairs. The next five years, 1991 through 1996, were spent at the University of Kansas Alumni Association. I served as the membership director, and in 1993 was named senior vice president for external affairs and membership development. Educationally, I received an A.T. degree in data processing from Jones County Community College (Ellisville, Miss.) in 1983, a B.S. in computer science from USM in 1986, and a masters in higher education administration from KU (Lawrence) in 1995.

What is your job?

I view my role as a major player in advancement initiatives for the UI. Advancement is a term that best describes what my work and that of others should do for an institution. I work very closely with Lou Liay, executive director of the Alumni Association, the board of directors and staff of the association, the chancellor, and yes, alumni, students, and all other interested friends of UI. I view my job as helping alumni, students and the campus community understand and utilize the services of the Alumni Association: alumni records, event- planning expertise, and the networking capabilities to reconnect alumni with each other and UI. Mainly, we want alumni and students to be UI ambassadors and supporters whereever they root themselves in the future and support this institution with their time, voice, talents, influence, and yes, their surplus money. Also, I will be at work forming partnerships with staffs of the UI Foundation and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, campus deans, directors and faculty and staff members to better carry out our goals and other mutual interests.

What do you see your biggest challenge being?

At this point, I sense it will be setting aside time to evaluate the current programs, services and operations of the association while forging campus relationships where we may have once thought no interest existed and enhancing existing alliances. A greater sense of community and support must be forged.

What are your short-term goals?

To assist the UI in understanding that our greatest pocket of alumni for future institutional support, volunteers and advocates are our current students. Therefore, we must allow advancement officials and programs to reach students while they are on campus and not wait until they graduate. Secondly, to better coordinate our use of alumni as volunteers and attract underrepresented groups into serving the association and UI and their own interests.

What do you feel you have to offer the UI?

In this day and age of higher education scrutiny, we cannot accept the status quo in any of our programs and endeavors. We must work together as a team and not as units with competing or secret agendas. We must collectively advance the UI mission as we carry out our jobs. Therefore, I hope I can offer UI the professional skills and knowledge to better our advancement initiatives without sacrificing our individual unit identities that have so soundly served the UI in the past.

-- Nancy Koeneman

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Comments to: Inside Illinois Editor Doris Dahl, (217) 333-2895, d-dahl2@illinois.edu

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