Erik Falter was in his element at the Washington State University Alumni Achievement Award presentation event for Merle Sande last September (see WSM, winter 2004-05, p. 49). Keeping alumni connected with WSU and each other tops Falter’s priorities as president of the WSU Alumni Association. He wants his presidency to reflect the association’s goals of building membership, developing ways to engage alumni, and enhancing the financial strength of the association.

“We have a system set up with dedicated alumni working with a passion for WSU. The Alumni Association is the easiest and most recognizable way for alumni to stay connected with WSU,” he says.

Falter (’90 Bus. Adm.), 37, epitomizes the youth movement afoot in the alumni association.

He grew up in Priest River, Idaho, worked his way through college as night manager of The Coug, wrote hometown releases for the WSU News Bureau, guided campus tours, and volunteered as a student recruiter for the admissions office. In 1994 he volunteered as WSU alumni director for northern California. He and his wife, Laura (Reilly ’99 Gen. St./Hum.), established the alumni club in Utah in 2004.

“Erik had that Cougar spirit from the beginning,” says Sue Hinz, former editor of WSU’s weekly internal newspaper, Bulletin/Calendar. “He has the most positive outlook. . . . He sees the value of everyone and everyone’s ideas. He has the enthusiasm to put those ideas in motion. He’s just a natural leader.”

Forty-five percent of WSU’s 175,000 alumni of record have graduated since 1985. Many of these younger alumni are shaping the association’s direction as board members.

“You don’t have to wait around until you have a ton of money and are 50 years old to get involved,” Falter says.