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SUNY Plattsburgh Welcomes New Alumni Director

For Joanne Nelson, the new director of alumni relations at SUNY Plattsburgh, working in higher education has always been her vocation.

“I have always loved working in advancement and student affairs,” said Joanne Nelson.

‘A Chance to Build on Something Here’

She’s especially excited about combining advancement work with alumni relations. With experience as director of campus ministry at Emmanuel College in Boston, and as associate director of Edmundite campus ministry for pastoral services, associate director of annual giving and assistant director of alumni relations at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., Nelson’s career path has been firmly paved in higher education.

"Work in institutional advancement is never boring – you’re on the dash, on the road, meeting with students, meeting with alumni, speaking in front of groups. The integration is so much fun,” she said.

“Coming over the causeway every day, with the sun rising over the lake, I know I’m in the right place. I work in a place I know is respectful. I have a chance to build on something here,” she said.

Fostering New Connections

But Nelson is most excited to move what is already in place forward.

“We have the opportunity to connect with even more alumni, to help connect them to their alma mater,” she said. “We’re going to bring the Distinguished Visiting Alumni Program forward in a proactive way, working more closely with the academic departments to discover more alumni who fit the bill for the DVA. The mission of the DVA is to connect successful alumni and students and further the academic reputation of the college.”

Another change Nelson helped implement with the help of the crew in the Office of Alumni Relations and the Alumni Association board was the addition of a Summer Reunion this past June.

“This year’s first Summer Reunion was an extraordinary success,” Nelson said. “It was my first as director and our first as a college. We have received so many positive comments.”

And now the office is implementing another change; shifting from Homecoming in October to Family Weekend-Homecoming in September, which will focus on education and Honors Program alumni.

“The main mission of alumni relations is to look to the college and each other to identify niches and find out how to connect them,” Nelson said. “To have an event that pays attention to two or three niches at a time allows us to spend quality time with those alumni, and gives them a chance to spend quality time with their classmates, with current students and with the faculty in their programs. It’s an exciting thing.


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