Imagine returning to college without the stress of finals. Intrigued? Meet Jennifer Joyner, who in January became the director of alumni relations at Columbus State University.
Joyner, who graduated from Mercer University in Macon and has held multiple jobs in higher education, helps plan engagement and participation programs for CSU alums.
“I want alumni to feel they can come home, be involved and stay connected to Columbus State University. Their relationship to CSU is for a lifetime -- not just the few years they are here as students,” she said.
Joyner took some time to answer our questions about her career and personal life. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us about your job. What are your responsibilities?
I’m responsible for the planning and implementation of programs and projects that engage Columbus State University alumni and give leadership to the total alumni development program for the university and the colleges to create and maintain alumni participation.
A lot of people consider college among their favorite memories. Do you enjoy being immersed in the college atmosphere every day?
I have been blessed that I have truly enjoyed all my previous jobs. However, the time I spent in higher education was invigorating and allowed me to be surrounded in a constant culture of creativity, engaged learning and positive energy. This was one of the main reasons that drew me back to higher education.
Do you think sites like Facebook have made college alums more likely to stay in touch? If so, how has that changed your job?
Social media has truly changed and redefined how we communicate with alumni and friends of the university. One of my goals is to get more alumni connected to the CSU Alumni Association (Facebook) site and keep information fresh and informative where the news feeds from the CSU Alumni Association are a must read.
How has the shaky economy impacted the fundraising aspect of your job?
I’m truly a “friend-raiser” first, hoping to make the case to alumni where they will see the reasons to financially support their alma mater.
These economic times make it harder to raise the much-needed funds that provide scholarships to students, retain world-class faculty, expand programs and all the things that make CSU exceptional. But the Columbus community has been very generous.
What’s your advice for CSU alums looking to get more involved in the college’s alumni association?
We are always in need of active alumni volunteers that want to get involved with the university and help get other alumni involved, too. But my first word of advice is to make sure we have your current contact information. For some strange reason, we all will let everyone else know when we’ve moved, but forget our alma mater. After that, call my office (706-507-8956) and I’ll find a way for you to be involved at a level you feel comfortable. That may be mentoring a student, joining us for Move-In Day, volunteering at the Art Auction or helping plan a reunion, attending a sporting event -- the opportunities are limitless.
Finally, tell us a little about your personal life.
I’m married to my wonderful husband, Richard. We have a 4-year-old daughter, Audrey, who keeps us both very busy. I am a very active volunteer with Phi Mu Fraternity. Also, I am a trustee for the Miss Georgia Organization and a sustainer in the Junior League of Columbus. I have a continued passion for the volunteer work done through Children’s Miracle Network at The Medical Center and am a volunteer with the Columbus Regional Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon Committee.
I love to read works of fiction and am trying to find some time to play tennis again.