Tag Archive for 'Alumni'

Getting to Know UWO Accomplished Alumni: Jeff Griffith

This past week, I had the honor of speaking with a fellow UW Oshkosh Alumni, Jeff Griffith. Currently working as Creative Director of Advertising and Marketing at Men’s Health magazine in New York City, Griffith formerly worked at a variety of advertising agencies around the country, and helped save the Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield from a proposed casino in his spare time.

Career Services: What is your current job title and some of your responsibilities?

Griffith: I’m currently Creative Director of Advertising/Marketing at Men’s Health magazine.

My job is to provide creative and strategic thinking and executions for our advertisers as well as any Men’s Health-sponsored events or activities. That includes ads, advertorials, videos, tablet enhancements, banners, rich media units, and any graphics needed for our numerous triathlons, the Men’s Health Cooking School, summer socials, and our signature event, the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in three cities nationwide.

My team also provides carefully-designed sales materials for our marketing managers and sales team within the Men’s Health brand.

Career Services: What was your career plan when you graduated UWO? Did you always want to work for Rodale-Men’s Health, or a specific company?

Griffith: My major at UWO was Journalism with an advertising emphasis. And a TV/Radio/Film minor. My goal all along was to work in an advertising agency. My first job was at an agency in Honolulu, then moved to Atlanta, then New York City. I worked at ad agencies my entire career and even had my own agency for three years called Jugular. In 2011, I jumped over to the publishing side and absolutely love it.

To answer your question, no, I had no plans to work for a magazine. But you never know what opportunities arise. I create more 360 degrees of design/advertising here than I ever would in a major ad agency. In an agency, you’d hand things off to a specific department. Here, we ARE the department.

Career Services: What is one of your greatest achievements that you are most proud of?

Griffith: In 2010, after I left my ad agency Jugular, I became passionately involved with a grassroots group out of Gettysburg, PA that was trying to stop a proposed casino a half-mile from the Gettysburg National Military Park and Battlefield. I found the group on Facebook.

Over the course of a year, I donated my spare time in creating all of their print advertising, billboards, bus shelters, T-shirts, brochures, and website to fight a local millionaire and his quest for a casino near hallowed ground. I produced/directed a collection of videos and personally enlisted several celebrities to present at the statewide hearing to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Filmmaker Ken Burns, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough, Sam Waterston, Stephen Lang, Matthew Broderick, international strategist Susan Eisenhower and Medal of Honor recipient Paul Bucha were videotaped telling their personal connections to Gettysburg and why it should be saved. Famed composer John Williams provided the music for all my videos. ALL whom donated their time and talent to the cause. Even Steven Spielberg himself gave us approvals to use music from “Saving Private Ryan” for some of the smaller videos.

Long story short, the videos and advertising campaign made the casino proposal a national issue instead of a local issue and the casino proposal was soundly defeated.

As a lifelong history buff, I can proudly say that I personally played a role in saving Gettysburg from urban growth. Wonderfully, as a result, I began working with the Civil War Trust who helps preserves ALL the Civil War battlefields in the US. So now I design their quarterly magazine called “Hallowed Ground” which goes to all their membership.

Career Services: What advice would you give to young UWO students who will be graduating this week, as they prepare to take their next steps in life and pursue careers?

Griffith: Your learning is just starting. No, you don’t know everything yet (sorry). And you never will. Be confident in yourself but pay attention to others who have done it before.

Have a goal of what you’re looking for. Don’t look to potential employers to provide that answer for you.

Turn your cell phone off now and then…listen to conversations, shake hands, meet people even if it’s just to be nice or for reference or possible friendships. And keep in touch!! You NEVER know whom you will meet down the road or where your world’s will connect again. The world is very small.

And one more thing, never ever forget where you came from no matter how successful you become. Come back to UWO and visit. Everybody’s story is different and it’s all interesting. Share your experiences. Give back and pay forward. 

Career Advice from Jeff GriffithCareer Advice from UWO alumnus and Men’s Health Creative Director, Jeff Griffith

 

Griffith has an impressive creative portfolio that displays a wide variety of the work he has done in the past, including his achievements with the Gettysburg Park preservation. Through his campaign contribution, including multiple videos and ads made the local issue something of national importance and the idea of the casino construction was dropped.

My mentor, my big sister

 

By Emily Colon

Four years ago I met one of my biggest role models, Adria Maddaleni, a UWO alumna. It was the evening of my fifteenth birthday. She was probably the best birthday present I have ever received. I met Adria through a pre-college program called Sponsor-A-Scholar that is run through the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee. Although it is called a pre-college program, it actually continues throughout your college career.

As a part of this program, I got assigned a mentor based on my personality and interests. I could not have asked for a better mentor. One of the reasons Adria and I got matched was because she is an attorney and that is one of the things I inspire to be in the future. She is currently an attorney for Milwaukee Public Schools.

During my high school career, Adria was there for me from day one. She has taught me so much and everything I have learned has been valuable. She has taken me to many places that I would have never gotten the opportunity to visit if it wasn’t for her. Throughout the years we have gone to movies, restaurants, museums, exhibits, college visits and so much more. Through those outings Adria helped me become the young woman I am today.

She always was there for me and gave me advice and support. During my senior year in high school Adria gave me lots of guidance in where I wanted to go with my future. We spent countless hours at her house just working on my college applications and all those essays. She has been there for me both academically and personally.

Having a mentor has been truly beneficial. Adria is mainly one of the reasons that I am a student at UWO today. When I was still in high school, she brought me up to visit the UWO campus and I fell completely in love with all it had to offer. Even though she would have supported me with any decision, I know that she is happy that I chose her alma mater for my undergraduate education. I love it here just as I know she loved it here.

Adria is more than just a mentor to me; she is the big sister I never had and I know I will be able to count on her for the rest of my life.

UWO Human Resource graduates give advice via webinar

By Emily Colon

When you hear HR Webinar what probably comes to your mind is an exclusive event for human resources majors. Well let me start by telling you that you are completely wrong. This webinar was useful to any major or person. This webinar was basically structured as question and answer. I was the only live audience member so that was a pretty cool experience. I got to meet the two gentlemen after the webinar and they were both very nice.

The two employers who participated in the webinar were Andrew Ingebrigtson and Carlos Rodriguez. They were asked questions from many different aspects of the work field. The first question they were asked was what challenges they face when trying to hire applicants. Carlos said a problem he faces is that applicants limit themselves. Andrew stated that what he struggles with is qualifications, especially in his field where there is a skills shortage in engineering.

Andrew Ingebrigtson

Carlos Rodriguez 

Next they gave advice on cross-transitioning. Carlos said moving from one job to another can help you develop skills not already in your expertise. A word of advice from Carlos was to stay positive with your previous employer. Andrew agreed with Carlos and added that you should be willing to volunteer for experience or go back to school for the skills you need. He also said that you should show your skills, especially things that might not be conveyed in your resume. When going from industry to industry, Carlos said to show your new employer that you have the skills necessary for that new position, and to sell yourself not your title. He also mentioned that a great thing to have is references.

The next topic was interviewing. Here are some tips that Carlos and Andrew gave:

  • Maintain good eye contact
  • Have a good pitch
  • Show your self-confidence
  • Be prepared and comfortable speaking about yourself
  • Sell yourself

They also talked about appropriate attire for an interview. A great piece of advice Andrew gave was to research the company and dress to what is expected for that position. Some people wonder what to bring to an interview. Carlos said that a resume and questions tend to be enough. A portfolio or project you have done that shows your skills for that position is more appropriate in a second interview. Andrew said it never hurts to ask what they would like you to bring beforehand.

 

Creating Connections Recap

By Emily Marie Colón

Creating Connections was held on April 25 in the Reeve Memorial Union Ballroom. It was from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., but many people stayed for a while after that. The event was hosted by Career Services in partnership with the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL).

This event was a total success. Being part of the behind-the-scenes action, I had many expectations for this event. With all the planning and marketing we had done, I was hoping for the best. In preparation for the event, the Career Services marketing team worked to spread the word all throughout campus, and reached out to many organizations such as the Asian Student Association, Hmong Student Union and the LGBTQ Resource Center.

As the event was beginning, I began to get nervous. I knew that we had done all we could to market the event successful, but attendance worried me. Everything else was in place; all that was left was for students to arrive. As the time got closer to the beginning of the event, my nerves kept rising. Then all of a sudden students started showing up and things were under way. Before the event began, I got the opportunity to mingle and I got the chance to meet Amanda Betts, one of the alumni speakers.

The alumni panel was new this year at Creating Connections. We had four wonderful alumni speakers: Adria Maddaleni, Amanda Betts, Jacob Griesbach and Jes Berndt. Prior to the event as I was speaking to Amanda, I learned a lot about her. It was pretty awesome because she was journalism major and Spanish minor just like me, so I thought that was really cool. All four alumni shared stories of their time here at UW Oshkosh, of their networking experiences and of where they are now.

After the alumni speakers, employers and students got the chance to network. There were two sessions with two different questions, one for each round. The first one was: what would you do with a million dollars? This question was a good question to start off with because it eased the tension and started conversations between students and employers. The second round was open networking where students could talk to employers of their choice and had the chance to enjoy refreshments. During the open networking round, I saw the room filled with students and employers and they all looked happy and seemed to be enjoying their selves. That made me very happy.

At the end of the day, Creating Connections was a total success. My nerves eventually calmed down as I saw that the room began to get filled with students. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and employers looked happy to be there. I felt all the hard work that we all put in paid off. I had a wonderful time at the 2nd annual Creating Connections: Empowered through Networking event.

 

Career Path Series: Jessica King

Career Services presents Jessica King, a University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumna and current Wisconsin State Senator. Sen. King, a native of Fond du Lac, received her undergraduate degree from UWO with majors in International Studies, History, and Political Science.

King was very involved on campus as she was the president of five different organizations including Phi Mu Fraternity and the Oshkosh Student Association. Later, King went on to study law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she received her degree along with a Certificate in Global Legal Studies.

In 2004, King returned to Oshkosh as an associate attorney as well as an adjunct professor at UWO.  On April 10, King will again revisit her alma mater to share her life experiences that shaped her career. She will also discuss the importance of involvement and the strength to take career chances. Please join us in welcoming her back to campus with our Career Path Series on April 10 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in Sage Hall room 1214.

Tables of Titans

Tables of Titans invites students to meet and have dinner with a variety of UW Oshkosh alums. This event provides a unique opportunity for students to network with alumni while exploring future career options in an intimate, friendly, and welcoming environment. The employer will cover lunch/dinner costs. Each event has a capacity of eight students each, so sign up quickly! Please be advised, that you are expected to attend if you RSVP. Your Titan Jobs account will be inactivated if you fail to do so. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with further details before the event.

Prudential
When: March 8, 2012 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Where: Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant
1501 Arboretum Drive, Oshkosh


Prudential companies have over $600 billion in total assets under management. This includes the Prudential Insurance Company of America, one of the largest insurance companies in the United States. They offer a variety of products and services including life insurance, mutual funds, annuities, pension and retirement related services and administration, asset management, securities brokerage, banking and trust services, real estate brokerage franchises and relocation services. They serve 15 million individual and institutional customers worldwide. They have approximately 39,000 employees.


Host: B.J. Helleson, Manager, Financial Services

I am currently a Manager and Financial Advisor with Prudential Financial in Wauwatosa, WI.  My responsibilites include growing the agency with quality advisors and providing the support and training that new advisors need when they first get into the financial services industry.  I started with Prudential right after I graduated in May of 2009.  I found that our training and development program and our compensation/benefits package is second to none, and can be a great opportunity for dynamic individuals to start off a great career.

Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP
When: March 13, 2012 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant
1501 Arboretum Drive, Oshkosh


Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP is one of the oldest and largest certified public accounting and consulting firms in the U.S. As an independent member of Baker Tilly International, the world’s 8th largest network of accounting firms, we bring you access to market-specific knowledge in 120 countries. 

Baker Tilly originated in 1931 with a commitment to deliver innovative financial solutions and solid business strategies to our clients. We believe that an accounting firm should complement the business style it is serving. Our approach balances solid financial know-how with a talent for innovation and creativity. This “can do” philosophy has resulted in our position as one of the industry’s most progressive and respected accounting firms.

Our clients are both privately held and publicly traded companies, and occupy all stages of development—from start-ups and family-run businesses to international corporations. They choose Baker Tilly because of our depth of experience, comprehensive service offerings, and commitment to their success. Many of the businesses we serve are closely held entities. A large part of our practice consists of providing tax and consulting services such as estate planning, succession planning, and owner buy/sell consultation to closely held companies.
Baker Tilly is an independent member of Baker Tilly International, a global network of high quality, independent accounting and business services firms. All Baker Tilly members are committed to providing the best possible service to their clients, in their own marketplaces and across the world, wherever help is needed. All firms within the network adhere to the same high quality standards and share skills, resources, and expertise to create best practices.
Host: Christina Stelter, Senior HR Generalist and Campus Recruiter
I am currently a Senior Generalist and a Campus Recruiter with Baker Tilly in Appleton, WI.  My responsibilities for campus recruiting include building relationships with professors, students and career services. As for my HR responsibilities, I work with our leaders and staff with succession planning, individual development planning, on boarding and exit process, and employee relations.  When I graduated from UWO, I start with Target Corporation as an Executive Team Leader – Human Resources and then joined Baker Tilly in fall of 2007.  I found that culture and a company’s appreciation of its employees is a major key to retention and overall employee satisfaction. I have found that both companies that I have worked for hold these qualities.

Cintas
When: April 4, 2012 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Where: Fratellos Waterfront Restaurant
1501 Arboretum Drive, Oshkosh

Cintas Corporation is one of America’s fastest growing and most respected service corporations. We are the largest company in our industry, and have an aggressive growth strategy focused on increasing our share of a $30+ billion market. We design, manufacture, and distribute products that are used by our customers for corporate identity and facility service programs throughout North America. Every day, more than 4 million people go to work in a Cintas uniform.
Host: Elaine Ruh, Human Resources Representative  & Health and Safety Coordinator
I am the Human Resources Representative for Cintas at the Greenville WI location and have been in  this role for the past 3 ½ years. Daily tasks and responsibilities that I oversee in the HR position are; recruiting, hiring,  benefits, payroll, training and development and fun team building activities.  As being the location’s Health and Safety coordinator, I manage all OSHA recordkeeping, implement new safety ideas, create awareness for a safe working environment and audit all training documents. Before starting at Cintas, I had two internships throughout my college career. I was the Sports Events Management Intern at Special Olympics in Appleton and an Office Manager/HR Generalist for a Regional Vice President for Primerica Financial Services.

Movers and Shakers: UWO alumnus creates his own clothing line

In 2011, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Jason Kobishop ’10 decided to branch out his creative skills by trying his hand at the fashion industry. A few months later, the graphic design major created Bound by Blood Clothing, an Appleton based company that sells unique clothing via its online store.

“I’ve always had a love for making t-shirts; there’s just something very unique about the medium,” Kobishop said. ”With websites, your goal is to design something that will look the same on every computer. When you create a magazine ad, the printed version will look the same in every copy of the magazine. But with clothing there are so many variables that can change your final product. The body shape of the person wearing it, the style in which they wear it, and what items they choose to wear with it. Add to that the ability for the design to move and change with every bend, twist and stretch of the moving body and you end up with a truly unique design every time.”

This week, the company launched its very first product line with an opportunity for customers to pre-order items. The first batch included tank tops, T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. Other items to be added are flat-brimmed hats and handcrafted items from the Bloodline sub-brand. Designs from Bloodline are original creations of Kobishop that will be offered in limited quantities.

Along with managing his own clothing company, Kobishop works as a graphic artist for Coalesce Marketing and Design
located in Appleton. He is also the drummer for local band 5MAN.

Ask the HR Expert Panel

Join us for a live webcast – Tuesday, Janury 10, 2012
Building Your Professional Development Portfolio: Ask the HR Expert 6-7PM (login by 5:45)
click here: https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/launch/meeting.jnlp?sid=1304&password=M.B76529F79294C319FD266A6857030A

Instructions to join webcast live:

  • disable pop-up windows
  • click link above to join us
  • Blackboard Collaborate window will appear
  • Enter your name
  • Blackboard will launch and Java 6… window will appear
  • You will enter Blackboard session
  • Follow instructions to run Audio set-up wizard
  • Share your questions via the chat function

Movers and Shakers: Former SOL President on Inclusive Excellence and Career Services

By Emily Colon

Last semester, Luis Barrios served as the president of the Student Organization of Latinos. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in December 2011 as a supply chain and operations management major.

Barrios has been the president of SOL for two and half years, taking one year off. He first ran during his sophomore year, and then his junior year. He decided not to run his senior year, but came back in 2011 for his fifth year and decided to run again and won. His motivation to run for president was to include more diversity and involvement into the organization.

He worked closely with the English and Spanish departments as well as admissions. His biggest struggles were recruitment and retention, Barrios said. His favorite part of being president was his personal development and the connections he made.

Barrios said that inclusive excellence is “a hard one” to define. When he thinks of inclusive excellence, he thinks of diversity. Barrios believes SOL represents inclusive excellence.

When asked about his experiences as a diverse student on campus, he said that in the end he “learned how to manage.” Barrios said he was culture shocked when he first arrived at University. He overcame this struggle by joining organizations such as SOL, Omega Delta Phi, and accounting club and by making new friends

As a student in the College of Business, Barrios was required to use the resources offered by Career Services, but he used it for personal reasons as well. Barrios said he drafted his first resume with the help of Career Services. Career Services has been beneficial to him and he will continue to use Career Services in the future, Barrios said.

Barrios especially enjoyed the photo shoot he helped out with for Career Services. He said he would highly recommend Career Services to friends. Barrios believes that some of the information he acquired from Career Services will help him in his future.

While in school, Barrios interned at Miles Kimball. Through his internship, he received a job offer for a management position in Madison, his hometown.

Barrios said that he has used social media, such as LinkedIn, in his job search. A valuable tip Barrios learned in college that will stick with him for the rest of his life is “not to put the napkin on the chair when you get up,” he said.

Movers and Shakers: Meet UWO Alumni Relations Director Christine Gantner

Perched above the first floor of Pollock Alumni House, a Spanish-styled home built in the 1920s, sits Christine Gantner’s office. At the top of an ornate yet charming staircase, her cove-like office is a converted reading room, drenched with light pouring in from the towering bay windows, a sun-seeker’s paradise. Running behind schedule after dropping her kids off at school for a late-start day, Gantner sheds her black trench coat and workbags like a labradoodle shaking off water droplets. After settling into her work nook in a corner of her roomy, antiquated office, Gantner looks up with an effervescent smile. Thoughts of errands left undone that once invaded her head seemed to retreat to the back of her mind as she melted into her comforting executive, leather chair.

Gantner has always been a busybody since she took on the role of alumni relations director at UW Oshkosh in 1998. Gantner is responsible for helping UW Oshkosh alumni stay connected to their alma mater now and for the rest of their lives. Through communication efforts, events and collaboration with other campus departments, Gantner sets out every morning, always stylishly dressed with her trendy yet manageable Tinkerbelle haircut, to work on one mission: connect with UW Oshkosh alumni, all 80,000 of them.

Growing up in Fond du Lac, Gantner made her way to Milwaukee where she attended UW Milwaukee in pursuit of a journalism/mass communications degree. Although she is now part of the UW Oshkosh family, the university wasn’t at the top of her list of colleges to attend when she was making the decision because it was “too close to home,” she said. However, throughout high school and later years, she became involved in numerous UW Oshkosh events and spent a lot of time on campus visiting with friends.

“I have visited UW Oshkosh several times and was fond of the institution, so I felt very familiar with UW Oshkosh as a campus,” Gantner said.

As a student at UW Milwaukee in the late 1980s, Gantner worked in the alumni relations office as a student employee. She was exposed to opportunities that allowed her to help plan events, work with alumni and write for their alumni publication.

“My experience there really honed my skills,” Gantner said.

Not only did her work in alumni relations help her perfect her skills as a journalist, but it also was there that she discovered her love of working with people.

In addition, she realized that her work in alumni relations utilized both of her skill sets, “the writing side and the people side,” she said.

“I was a mass communications major with a public relations emphasis,” Gantner explained. “I thought I wanted to be a journalist because writing was always a strength of mine, but instead of writing in a traditional newsroom, I felt that some of my skill sets really were building relationships, interacting with people and public speaking.”

Opportunity Knocks

In a sort of alignment of the universe, UW Milwaukee’s alumni relations office had an opening for a special events coordinator at the same time that Gantner was ready to graduate. Gantner figured that she had essentially been filling that role as a student worker, so she “threw her hat in the ring” and in the end got the job.

“I was really fortunate that I got that job right out of college doing something that I really really love,” Gantner said. “I can’t say enough about the power of networking and keeping your mind open to new opportunities.”

After a couple of years, she was promoted to assistant alumni director at UW Milwaukee, and for a stint, Gantner served as interim alumni director.

“My career in alumni relations just blossomed from there,” she said.

Although Gantner has been working in the UW schools system since graduation, she said she never envisioned herself working for her alma mater.

“I thought I was going to be a journalist or something and I kind of had tunnel vision,” Gantner said. “I had some internships where I did corporate communications, so I really was focused on more traditional paths you can take with a journalism/mass communications degree, but I had a professor tell me ‘don’t use tunnel vision when you’re searching for jobs.’”

Before accepting a full-time position at UW Milwaukee, Gantner was an intern at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield at its Waukesha corporate headquarters. She wrote for its internal employee newsletter, which reaches thousands of people worldwide. She also pursued an internship in her hometown for the Fond du Lac Conventions and Visitors Bureau.

“As part of that internship, I was able to hone my skills in event planning and public relations,” Gantner said.

She got the chance to team up with several community volunteers and plan major events for the city of Fond du Lac.

“That was a wonderful opportunity because it helped me make a lot of connections with business professionals who volunteered,” Gantner said.

From 1992 through to the end of 1997, Gantner worked at UW Milwaukee in alumni relations, both as the special events coordinator and then assistant alumni director. And then Gantner heard of an open position through a friend at UW Oshkosh as the director of alumni relations. She thought it would be a good fit, Gantner said.

“I interviewed and was fortunate enough to get the position in 1998 and it’s been great ever since,” she said.

When Gantner left UW Milwaukee, her title was assistant alumni director. Although she loved her job there and the people she worked with, Gantner “carped the diem” and took the position at UW Oshkosh. She yearned for the opportunity to be a full-time director of a successful program and for her career to flourish as well, Gantner said.

Hello UWO

Now Gantner, a bubbly and enthusiastic director, uses communication, event planning and interpersonal skills she learned from previous internships and job positions to succeed at her profession.

“We have 80,000 UW Oshkosh alumni worldwide and I think the most fundamental thing we do with all 80,000 of those people, or try to do, is communicate with them,” Gantner said. “We keep them informed and updated about what is going on at their university so they still feel a connection and involved.”

In efforts to connect to and engage with alumni, Gantner works diligently with communications manager Natalie Johnson through outlets such as Engage magazine and UW Oshkosh Today. Johnson, with both her computer monitor and laptop opened in front of her, frantically searches the database to remember when she began working at Pollock House. The year was 2003 when Johnson was working in university relations before it became integrated marketing communications, and Gantner was dabbling in alumni relations. The two collaborated on projects for events such as homecoming, and now Gantner serves as Johnson’s supervisor, but their relationship is far from that of a boss and employee.

“She gives direction but is very in to hearing my ideas and we work side-by-side to get the word out and promote all the good things that are going on at UW Oshkosh for alums,” Johnson said. “She’s one of the most enthusiastic and supportive supervisors that I have ever had. It’s a joy; we come to this house and we share a lot of really great ideas and it is fun work to be doing together.”

Another way that Gantner tries to reach out to alumni is by organizing special events. The alumni relations office hosts several events in various cities throughout Wisconsin and the U.S.  Those are called geographical alumni events. Upon graduation, many UW Oshkosh alumni have migrated to warmer regions of the country where separate alumni chapters are now thriving. Gantner has been able to visit chapters in the central Florida and Phoenix areas.

“Those alumni events allow us to take the university on the road and to our alums in the communities in which they live and work,” Gantner said. “We get to share updates about what is going on around the campus and help alumni be proud of what is still happening at their alma mater.”

Gantner said these events also provide alumni with the opportunity to meet one another, network and develop professionally. The alumni relations office, under the direction of Gantner, also hosts larger campus events in hopes of getting alumni to come back to Oshkosh. Homecoming and the Golden Titan Reunions, which ensues every spring, are two momentous events for the alumni relations office.

Gantner often teams up with university services associate Linda Cotton to effectively coordinate these events. Cotton has been working at Pollock Alumni House since Gantner graduated from college in 1991. Cotton’s duties include a lot of secretarial work and database upkeep as well. From behind her bulky, oak desk, she staffs the entrance of Pollock House. Religious calendars, scribbled notes and Jesus knickknacks are scattered about her desktop, personalizing her territory. Although things at the alumni relations office can get hectic during homecoming and the weeks before commencement, Cotton feels that the ladies at Pollock House make a great team.

“We all have our expertise, our strong suits, and we blend beautifully with what our responsibilities are,” Cotton said.

Having known Gantner the longest, Cotton’s relationship with her extends far beyond employee and boss. Cotton said Gantner is always very supportive and has always treated her employees with great appreciation.

“I’ve been very blessed to have wonderful alumni directors during my whole career here,” Cotton said. “She’s definitely one I’m thankful I can call my boss and my friend. That is how I introduce her, because she truly is a friend. It makes work a pleasure every day when you don’t have to live under a heavy thumb.”

Student workers at Pollock Alumni House also expressed their gratitude for an understanding and patient boss. Sheraden Bobot, the program and development intern for Pollock Alumni House, works closely with Gantner to market alumni relations services to incoming and current students.

“I really feel like what we do is we collaborate and we come together and have sort of a meeting of minds,” Bobot said, whipping a strand of her curly red hair out of her face. “I say what I feel about my experiences with students and she will take it and run with it. It’s a great feeling to have your superior take your ideas and make them happen. It makes you feel valued and appreciated and you feel like you’re in a self-fulfilled position.”

Another student worker at Pollock Alumni House, Stephanie Dercks, serves as a student assistant. She met Gantner a year and a half ago and immediately thought of Gantner as an outgoing, determined and personable boss, Dercks said.

“I think her openness is what sets Chris apart from others,” Dercks said. “She always carries herself with a sense of grace and pride. Her work ethic shows how strong and determined she really is.”

The two are currently working on a video where Gantner will give a tour of the historic Pollock Alumni House, from the ostentatious foyer and grand staircase to the musty and cozy bedrooms turned offices.

“There is never a time when Chris doesn’t have a million and one things to do, yet she manages to pull it off perfectly every time,” Dercks said with a glint of admiration in her eyes.

Bobot agreed and said Gantner is always going the extra mile to make alumni, students and faculty/staff on campus happy.

“If someone needs something from her on her end, she immediately responds and is more than accommodating,” Bobot said reassuringly.

Other ways that Gantner and her team try to reach soon-to-be alumni are through the Student Alumni Ambassadors program, in which Bobot serves as the adviser, and through the “almost alumni” lunches held every year near commencement.

“Chris is a very innovative director and is always thinking of new ways to engage alums and students in all ways they approach ‘alumni-hood,’” Cotton said. “It’s an exciting and non-stagnant thing to work with Chris.”

Not only does Gantner build and maintain relationships with alumni, students and employees, but her influence also spider webs out to different departments on the UW Oshkosh campus.

“She is a very work-driven woman and just a pleasure to work with all around in every capacity, with departments, alumni and student,” Bobot said.

Most recently, Gantner helped the journalism and radio-TV-film departments bring back several alums to speak to students over homecoming weekend.

The alumni relations office also joins forces with UW Oshkosh’s career services to provide alumni with career-related help and to identify alumni who are willing to come back to campus and participate in some of the career services programs like Dining with Professionals.

“All of the things we do are to engage our alums and let them know that they can continue to use the resources at the university long after graduation and actually throughout their lifetimes,” Gantner said.

Overall, Gantner’s work efforts and influence reach almost every corner of the UW Oshkosh community.

“She is very much in tune with the every aspect of the alumni office, alumni relations and reaching out to the alums,” Cotton said. “As the years go on, many of our alums, locally and non-locally, see what a wonderful alumni director she is. She’s definitely the right woman for the Job!”

Gantner said that her favorite part about her position is working with people.

“I have met so many alumni and friends of the university through this position and that to me is the most energizing part of my job, working with people and listening to their stories,” Gantner said. “They tell me how transformational UW Oshkosh has been for their lives and how their education here and the relationships they made impacted their lives in very significant ways. That is very rewarding.”

Johnson said that Gantner is always really receptive about incorporating new ideas and alumni tales into the alumni relations agenda.

“There are so many great stories out there and she is always on the lookout for chances to spread the word about what our alums are doing,” Johnson said.

Home Life

When Gantner is not a busybody at work, she’s a busybody at home. She lives in the Fond du Lac area with her husband, Tom Gantner, and their two children, Sam, 11, and Madeline, 8.

“I almost forgot to mention, we also have two dogs, two cats and a bunch of fish,” Gantner said with a chuckle.

She and her family love the outdoors, Gantner professed as her eyes drifted to the sunny autumn day outside.

“We live in the country, so we love going for bike rides and walks in the woods,” she added. “We love earth and nature.”

Gantner, when not acting in her official capacity as alumni relations director, is a member of the Lomira School District Parents and Teachers for Children, an organization that conducts fundraisers and social functions.

“I try to be active and involved as much as my schedule allows with my kids’ school,” she said.

Gantner also spends time volunteering at Hope Lutheran Church as a Sunday school teacher and with youth activities. On top of trying to make time for family and religious activities, Gantner serves as a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, an international professional development organization for people who work in alumni relations. She is a part of the CASE V district of the Midwest. Last year, she and her team won an award for best practices in alumni relations for an institution of 10,000 and more full-time-equivalent students. As part of her work with CASE, she and Johnson have been asked to present at its annual meeting in Chicago this December.

Despite the pressure of 80,000 alumni waiting to be reached, Gantner manages to maintain her confident composure by finding solace in spending time with her family and in enjoying what she does.

“The one thing that is kind of hard is juggling a somewhat demanding job, which requires long hours, weekends and nights, with the family stuff like band concerts and sports activities,” Gantner admitted. “I’ve been able to find an opportunity for balance. I love what I do here and have a passion for it, so it all flows pretty naturally.”


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