Earlier this month, Brad Choate, Vice Chancellor for Advancement, announced that Graham Stewart will assume duties as Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of the Arkansas Alumni Association on May 14. The announcement completes an extensive search for my successor.

I have known Graham and watched him as a professional colleague for years. He comes to Fayetteville from a similar position at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Although the megaversity in Columbus insists on calling itself “The,” this Ohio is the oldest state university in Ohio and the fourth-oldest in the country. And, it is led by a former dean of Arkansas’ College of Education and Health Professions, Rod McDavis. Rod was honored Friday in Little Rock as a recipient of the Silas Hunt Legacy Award and had nothing but praises for Graham’s work.

Graham has 13 years of experience leading alumni associations at his alma mater, Ithaca College, the University at Buffalo, State University of New York and Ohio. In addition to leading the usual alumni programs, serving as publisher of alumni magazines and playing an important role in the advancement of those institutions, he took part in capital campaigns and administered alumni membership programs.

He is nationally respected in the profession and served on the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s Commission on Alumni Relations from 2007-2010. This commission represents alumni associations on a national level and provides direction on primary issues and challenges that these organizations face.

He will become the first Arkansas alumni director to win a Grammy which he earned as a member of The Gregg Smith Singers. He has performed in operatic and musical theater roles and plays trombone. I am convinced he will bring an appreciation of those art forms to the association and campus.

Most important, I believe he will continue to build a strong Arkansas Alumni Association engaging and communicating with our alumni, especially the younger graduates. I know you will give him the same assistance and encouragement you have given me these past 24 years.

National Volunteer Week

This week, April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week. It is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek imaginative ways to engage their communities. Our community includes campus, the student community and the individual communities in Arkansas and across the world where our alumni live.

The Arkansas Alumni Association has been blessed with hundreds of volunteers from those who serve on the national board of directors, to local chapter leaders, to individual alumni who review scholarship applications, man a registration table at an alumni event, or help in a community project such as our efforts in Joplin. During this week, we remember and celebrate our volunteers – they make our organization one of the best in the nation. Thank you!!!