Loftus says goodbye to KSU

Adam Milasincic

Lindsey Loftus, departing Alumni director, speaks with Patricia Ackerman, a member of the National Alumni Board at his farewell reception Thursday in the Student Center. Dan McCombs, former Alumni director, and his wife Joyce McCombs (background) also att

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Lindsey Loftus spent his last day on campus as executive director of the Kent State University Alumni Association on Friday, and the search is on to find his successor.

Lori Randorf, the association’s current marketing leader, will serve as interim executive director starting today. She will serve until a seven-member search committee selects a permanent replacement for Loftus, said Kathy Stafford, associate vice president for University Relations and Development.

“It’s a very important position to the university, and we will be as serious as we can about filling it,” Stafford said. “We would be looking for continuity; the Alumni Association has been making great progress.”

Loftus announced his plans to depart last month after accepting an administrative position at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. He began his current job in 2000 and recently helped devise a five-year strategy for alumni growth. Loftus’ replacement will be asked to build on that plan.

“The executive would provide leadership in a number of ways, including increasing our membership chapters across the country and increasing student participation,” Stafford said.

The new executive director will also need to build a bridge between thousands of Kent State alumni and whomever is selected to replace retiring university President Carol Cartwright. That task, along with preparations for Kent State’s 100th birthday in 2010, will top the priority list, said Nancy Schiappa, a search committee member and associate director of alumni outreach.

“This is important because, in some ways, the only permanent constituency of the university is alumni, so I think we play a vital role,” Schiappa said. “Kent State is as good as our alumni are successful.”

Randorf said an alumni executive must preserve and expand association membership because nearly all activities rely on volunteers. She also cited the need for “good business sense, so we can make the best use of our resources.” All alumni programs are funded by donations.

Randorf said she plans to begin work on a budget for the next fiscal year when she assumes her new role this week. She has worked closely with Loftus since his departure announcement to provide for a smooth transition. Loftus has updated her on his personal projects and arranged joint meetings with key alumni board members, she said.

“I’m certain there will be challenges,” Randorf said. “Lindsey has laid really good groundwork. The biggest challenge will probably be trying to fill his shoes.”

Members of the search committee will try to find a match for those shoes in months ahead, Stafford said. The first step is updating the executive director’s job description. The committee will then post official word of the opening and start culling through r‚sum‚s. The process ends with phone interviews and face-to-face meetings with finalists.

The search committee has not scheduled its first meeting, and deliberations typically take about six months, Stafford said.

Stafford selected the committee’s seven members from departments with a high stake in alumni relations. Thomas Neumann, associate vice president for University Communications and Marketing, is the chairman. Three members were selected from the alumni association board of directors; the other three are Schiappa, university fundraiser Tiffany Murello and Kristen Vazzano, an assistant admissions director.

Vazzano said the new alumni director should have a role that crosses department boundaries, citing Loftus’s efforts to draft alumni for help with out-of-state student recruiting.

“It’s very important to have someone strong in the position,” Vazzano said. “It doesn’t just affect alumni.”

Contact alumni reporter Adam Milasincic at [email protected].