New Alumni Association director to focus on communication
It didn’t take long for Christina Cobb to produce big results at her first job in higher education.
In less than three years as marketing and membership director for the Auburn University Alumni Association, she spearheaded a 150 percent increase in revenue from affinity programs, oversaw a 10 percent increase in the retention rate of new members and helped organize events with an average attendance of 3,500. By the time she left her alma mater, its alumni group had become one of the country’s largest with 50,000 members.
Cobb, who began April 11 as executive director of the UTA Alumni Association, sees similar opportunities here.
“There is so much growth potential,” she said, noting the University’s alumni base of more than 160,000. “It’s great to have the opportunity to get my hands around the organization and try to boost it.”
As Cobb’s record shows, she knows a few things about boosting alumni support.
Her tenure at Auburn included negotiating a 50 percent increase in guaranteed revenue from the university’s printed directory while achieving a 24 percent reduction in departmental costs. She created and managed an online community that featured a directory, permanent e-mail and a merchandise store. She coordinated direct mailings, advertising and sponsorship sales.
“Christina brings a wealth of experience in developing, delivering and managing membership services. Her efforts directly contributed to Auburn University having the fourth largest alumni association in the nation,” UTA Alumni Association President Gina Waco (’89 BA) said. “Our organization is poised to enter a new phase of growth, and we’re looking forward to working with Christina to expand our membership and develop new, non-dues-based revenue strategies.”
A native of tiny Slapout, Ala., Cobb earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Auburn and her master’s in marketing from Georgia State University. She worked four years in the private sector before joining the staff of the Auburn Alumni Association in 2002.
She had been a customer service specialist in the Energy Solutions Center for Southern Co., one of the country’s largest energy companies, and a marketing program manager for Viewlocity, a global provider of supply chain management software. She also served as director of marketing in North America for Atraxis, an information technology consulting company for the airline industry.
At UTA she replaces Tamela Herczeg, who stepped down last fall. Her dual background in higher education and industry will serve the University well, says President James D. Spaniolo.
“With an outstanding record in both alumni association work and corporate communication, Christina understands the needs and interests of her constituents,” he said. “We believe she will greatly enhance the programs and initiatives of the Alumni Association and its membership.”
Increasing membership is a main goal, as is strengthening communication.
“First and foremost, we want to communicate with alumni,” she said. “We want to get in touch with them and see what they expect the Alumni Association to do for them. We want to keep alumni connected.”
She knows that the process must begin before graduation.
“We must start with the current student experience. It’s difficult to establish that connection after alumni have been out of school 20 years.”
Her message to UTA graduates?
“Be proud of your alma mater because it’s a great university. Be proud of your degree and get involved.”
— Mark Permenter