place like home
Tamela Herczeg walked through the front door of the Alumni Association
office in September, the act represented more than a new executive director
assuming her duties. She was coming home.
After graduating from UTA in 1995, Herczeg chose to stay at home with her sons, Austin, now 7, and Michael, 5. She re-entered the workforce in 1997 as membership director for the American Mensa Society. Still, she often returned to help UTA with special projects like the annual Distinguished Alumni Gala.
Now the special projects are but one facet of a bigger picture. Herczeg's first priority as executive director is to entice the alumni back to their university.
"There are places that people are drawn to. Business students, like me, have a natural affinity for the Business Building. Architecture students come home to their building. It's the same for almost everyone," she said.
"Our role in the Alumni Association is to help people find their niche, to help them get in touch with one another and with their college or school, based on their UTA experience." The UTA experience for the Alumni Association's new chief included meeting her husband, Stewart, when they were both students working part time in the University Center.
He was a building supervisor, and she was in the operations and reservations office. Their story adds to the patchwork of UTA lore, which Tamela loves hearing, especially the tales from earlier in school history.
"One of my favorite parts of this job is listening to people reminisce. I'm fascinated by the stories of wartime vouchers and food rationing from the days when we were North Texas Agricultural College.
"Over the past century, we've been through so many changes and so much diversity. That's a great strength for us. UTA has a bright future."
As she increases communication with University alumni, Herczeg expects that they, too, will see that bright future. To reach more of them, she plans a monthly calendar highlighting campus events and inviting alumni participation. She also plans to strengthen and add to the present group of eight alumni chapters. "Alumni support is significant," she emphasized.
"It makes a big difference for universities, particularly in terms of support for scholarships and endowments. We have 70,000 alumni in the Metroplex alone. There's no reason that we should have only 5,000 members of the Alumni Association." And no reason to believe that Herczeg can't convince her fellow alumni to follow her home.