In September 2003, Tim Pavish ’80 left Seattle and a 20-year career in advertising to return to Pullman and become the executive director of the WSU Alumni Association (WSUAA). He was eager to do something more for his alma mater, after all that it has given him over the years.
“I owe a lot to WSU, not the least of which is it’s where I met my wife, Carin (Hull) Pavish,” he says. “I made many of my closest friends at WSU and through WSU. I received a great education here and learned valuable life lessons outside the classroom. And now my two kids are WSU students.”
Taking charge of the WSUAA was no small task. “I knew then that the job would require leveraging the foundation laid by my predecessors, Pat Patterson and Keith Lincoln, two proud Cougars who served the WSUAA for more than a quarter century each,” he says. Pavish knew he also needed a focused plan, a talented staff to execute it, and the backing of university leadership.
The WSUAA soon set out to craft a strategic plan that focused on achieving three key objectives: increasing membership, engaging more alumni, and strengthening the finances of WSUAA to better serve WSU.
The alumni association would also need the help of an army of dedicated volunteers and the support of thousands of loyal WSUAA members. And finally, the effort would benefit from the engagement of “the best alumni and university friends in the world,” Pavish adds.
“This team and group of volunteers have accomplished so much,” says Rhonda Kromm ’86, ’05, WSUAA past president and WSUAA volunteer for over 16 years, “They are remarkable people, great Cougs, and what they have achieved is truly astonishing.”
Over the past 10 years, the alumni association has doubled membership, a feat unmatched elsewhere. It has grown the number of alumni events held across the country from 100 to over 500 each year. The WSUAA also developed and launched the new crimson Cougar license plate. With 17,000 WSU plates on the road and counting, the program now raises close to $500,000 for scholarships each year for WSU students. For the past 10 years, the WSUAA has maintained a balanced budget, cared for the historic Lewis Alumni Centre, dedicated an Alumni Arboretum on campus, and launched new membership types to fit the needs of more Cougs: platinum life, student, recent grad, golden grad, and family memberships.
It has also started new ventures. The volunteer-led WSU Impact assists alumni and friends who want to be civic advocates for WSU and higher education. The Wine-By-Cougars wine club celebrates the vital roles alumni and the university have in the wine industry. The Cougar Business Network supports Cougar businesses by helping alumni find them and do business with them. And WSUAA Career Support helps alumni in their career development from writing resumes to finding jobs through a national recruiting network.
“We’ve done all this on a small budget and with a small, dedicated staff. The smallest in the Pac-12,” says Pavish. Looking back, Pavish remarks that what the WSUAA has accomplished during the past ten years has been truly remarkable. “I am so grateful for the contributions of everyone, most especially my teammates, the volunteers, and the thousands of loyal members.”
Looking forward, Pavish says the focus of the WSUAA will remain on recruiting more members and serving the needs of WSU and its alumni. “In the next few years, we’d like to report the WSUAA has tripled membership.” A goal all Cougs can help achieve.