Courtney Marshall, until now a development officer from Kansas State University, is the new president and CEO of the Wichita State University Alumni Association, WSU alumni officials said Friday.
She replaces longtime president Debbie Kennedy, who now directs the Wichita Children’s Home.
Marshall has worked since 2013 as a gift development officer for the College of Veterinary Medicine at K-State. In that role, her responsibilities included cultivating and soliciting donors and prospective donors.
“She’s very qualified for the position and all our constituents and stakeholders are happy to have her aboard,” said Denis Dieker, chair of the WSU Alumni Association board of directors.
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“I’m thrilled to be beginning a new Shocker chapter in my alumni relations career,” Marshall said in a statement. “I am looking forward to getting to know the individual faces of Shocker Nation.”
The position is important for a number of reasons and not only because WSU has developed popular and powerful men’s and women’s basketball teams, Dieker and Kennedy have said. The association serves as an ambassador and point of contact for thousands of alumni around the country and the world.
Kennedy held the job for nine years. She said it’s about more than just “showcasing the pride” in WSU. That was a fun part of the job in the past year, rallying and helping WSU alumni as they got excited about winning basketball teams.
But there are other, more important roles, she said. WSU has worked hard to underscore its role not only in educating students but in creating jobs and boosting the Kansas economy.
There are roughly 95,000 WSU alumni in the world, she said. Every one of them, if they want, can sell WSU to the world as a good university – if they had a good experience and if they still care.
“Our job in the alumni association was to stay connected to as many of those 95,000 living alumni as we could, and not just the 6,000 members of the alumni association,” she said. “They can help us by talking about the university, so our job was to keep them informed, to help with reunions, send them stories about WSU in Shocker magazine – and hopefully we help them have pride in their university home.”
They try to keep them connected not only to WSU but to each other, Dieker said.
“If you’ve got alums living in Kansas City or any other city, we try to help them connect and help each other, around the U.S. and around the world,” he said.
Keeping track of them takes work but produces benefits, Kennedy said. The association keeps updated, detailed lists on Shocker alumni.
“Where are they, who employs them, how we can reach them if we want to,” she said. “That work is not only about keeping the flame of pride flickering, but can produce practical information about what jobs the alumni got and whether they were prepared for that job by their studies at WSU.
“In many ways, your alumni are your most important asset.”
Marshall grew up in Amarillo, Texas, but she has ties to south-central Kansas. Her mother grew up in unincorporated Penalosa, a small community 15 minutes northwest of Kingman; both she and her mother were born in the Kingman hospital.
“This job is a great opportunity for me … I hope to help take the alumni association to new heights,” Marshall said.
She works by trying to make people comfortable, she said. She tries to match their interests with the university’s needs.
No more K-State purple for her, she said. She’s taking crash courses and researching everything she can find on WSU.
She’s a lifelong sports fan and so already knows a good deal about the winning histories of the basketball and baseball teams. And no, she said, she is not related to men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall.
Courtney Marshall has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from K-State, the alumni association statement said. She worked as director of membership and student alumni adviser from 2011 to 2013 at the Texas Tech Alumni Association, where she directed the annual membership dues program and created annual corporate membership levels.
From 2007 through 2010, according to the statement, she directed alumni relations at Benedictine College in Atchison. There, she managed the Benedictine College Fund and raised more than $1 million annually.
She also worked from 2004 to 2007 as executive director of the University of South Dakota Alumni Association, according to the statement.