by Vincent Reda (October 13, 2006)
Alumni Achiever Campaign Highlights UAlbany as Great Starting Point
Twelve UAlbany alumni who exemplify the ideal of "Reaching Higher, Achieving More" began an exciting visual residency on campus this month. Their images and career stories now resonate from 7-foot-high poster boards in the Lecture Center area and large tripod screens in University Hall.
They represent the first installment of a campaign that celebrates the successful, often remarkable career paths of UAlbany alumni in all walks of life. And four of the "Reaching Higher, Achieving More" posters will come to life on Friday, Oct. 20, at a luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom (Luncheon registration >>).
On hand will be Catherine Bertini '71, former head of the U.N. World Food Program; "twin" talent agency owners Debbie and Lisa Ganz, '88 and '89; Jack Henion '72, whose company is a worldwide leader in applying nanotechnology to pharmaceutical research; and former U.S. Department of Justice drug czar Tom Constantine '71. The alums will chat with students in individual breakout sessions from 2 – 3:30 p.m.
In the spring, kiosks placed in other parts of campus will further spotlight these achievers. "The campaign is designed to show all students how UAlbany helps lay the foundation of their success, by giving them the tools to begin their self-discovery," said Catherine Herman, associate vice president for media and marketing. She said that new rounds of posters are being planned for each new school year.
Each poster's top two-thirds is dominated by a large black-and-white photo, capturing a moment in an individual alumnus or alumna's UAlbany student years. Below is a smaller color photo of the same person today and, just below that, a linear graph with UAlbany as the starting point on a timeline of achievement. The black-and-white images are softer, almost hazy, yet still call out with force — of faces brimming with hope or swagger, and always with the vigor of youth. The present images, by contrast, glance outward in sharp color and confidence — portraits of abilities put to use, achievements secured.
"It is certainly impressive to view these remarkable careers," said Jason Zogg, a senior who was a member of focus groups that weighed the first designs of the posters. "Too many of us lack an understanding of just how far we can go with a University at Albany education. The stories on these posters are not usually heard about, but they are as noteworthy as any you'd find at Ivy League schools. It helps to validate and even places more value on our experiences here."
In addition to the alumni coming on Oct. 20, others highlighted include a major cruise line CFO, a revered children's rights advocate, a nationally renowned children's book author, a Drama Desk Award-winning actress and a U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals justice.
As students, most of these alums would not have guessed such outcomes for themselves, noted Jeffrey J. Haugaard, dean of the Honors College. "The posters show the that a person's pathway to the future is often not a straight one — that they may have different kinds of jobs and use their talents in ways they never envisioned while they were here," said Haugaard. "In that way, all the quality experiences they have here may be of unseen great value to what will become of their lives."
The focus group concentrated on images and messages that would be pleasing to the students of today. "Many of the changes we suggested were cosmetic, in order to make the posters more readable for the way students move through these areas," said Zogg. "We wanted students who might be in line or who were just passing to be able to read as much as possible.
"Also, there were originally some long lines written below that some of us just wouldn't understand. There was one reference to Captain Kangaroo — well, some of us knew about him and some of us didn't. It was a lot of fun how the designers worked with us and implemented changes."
Zogg also agrees that the posters teach that undergraduate education is not necessarily "about straight, prescribed career paths. That's very encouraging. The important thing is a strong education. Look at me — I'm an urban studies & planning and political science double major, and this summer I did an internship with Jet Blue airlines."