When his school called, this Coug answered.

Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins contacted Tim Pavish (’80 Comm.), a longtime volunteer, in 2003 and encouraged him to apply for executive director at the WSU Alumni Association.

Tim Pavish on location in the WSU Alumni Centre
Tim Pavish on location in the WSU Alumni Centre (Photo Shelly Hanks)

Pavish got the WSUAA position and, 18 years later, will retire in June after astounding success in building a robust alumni association that tripled membership and expanded its many events.

His roots run deep in Palouse soil. A first-generation college student from Walla Walla, Pavish came to Pullman in 1977 and fell in love.

“I met my wife-to-be Carin at WSU. She invited me to her Pi Beta Phi pledge dance,” says Pavish, who was in Lambda Chi Alpha. It was one of his many happy memories of Washington State, along with the crisp smell of fall frost on campus.

“I’ve always considered myself extraordinarily fortunate to have received the education that I did from WSU,” Pavish says.

After graduation, he credits each job he has had to Coug connections: communications for the state’s Apple Commission, roles up to managing partner at prominent Seattle advertising agency DDB Worldwide, and eventually leading WSUAA.

Pavish was also a member of the WSU Foundation Board of Trustees, the WSU Athletic Foundation Advisory Committee, Advancement Communications Committee, and the Professional Advisory Board of the Murrow College.

“Tim followed a Cougar legend, Keith Lincoln,” says Mike Connell (’85 Busi.), vice president for advancement and CEO of the WSU Foundation. “Only four people have had this job in the last 82 years, and Tim successfully brought his own style to the team.”

That style, says Shelly Spangler (’07 Busi.), is a labor of love in tireless and enthusiastic support for the WSUAA team’s work. Spangler, president of the WSUAA Board of Directors, first met Pavish at a WSUAA game day event in Colorado that inspired her to volunteer.

“Tim sets the culture. The team loves the Alumni Association just as much as any of us in a volunteer role,” Spangler says. “Tim knows when to guide and he knows when to just get the heck out of the way and let his team go.”

And the WSUAA team has gone far. Under Pavish’s leadership, the Alumni Association grew from 13,000 members to over 44,000 members. When he started, they held 100 events a year and now average over 1,900 events annually. The WSU license plate program also doubled in size and now generates over $750,000 a year for scholarships.

Even when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the WSUAA adapted quickly. Membership actually grew in the last couple of years, as Pavish and the team converted popular programs, such as the Feast of the Arts to Feast@Home, a virtual gathering of Cougs with wine, food, and special guests that sold out each time. Pavish notes other WSUAA events, too, like a live video meeting with farmers and llamas in Bolivia for alumni hungry to travel.

“I give tons of credit to the team and our volunteers, but the biggest chunk of credit goes to the alumni because they love Washington State University,” Pavish says.

Connell, responsible for finding the new WSUAA executive director, says, “We can’t see around the corner, 10 years from now, in terms of what the expectations are going to be for an alumni association. But Tim made this a very attractive job. I’m also grateful, as an alum, for the job he’s done.”

Pavish certainly leaves a legacy stamped with his hallmark energy, smile, good-natured commitment to work hard, and strong love for WSU.

“Tim is such an advocate,” Spangler says. “I’ve not met a more tried-and-true Coug.”

Pavish will continue to volunteer with WSU and spend time with his family: wife Carin Hull Pavish (’80 App. & Textiles), daughter McKenzie (’14 Soc. Sci.), and son Ben (’16 Fin.).

As he reflects on his time leading the WSUAA, Pavish especially feels thankful. “As I wrap things up as alumni director, the thing that I feel the most is gratitude. It was a very fulfilling way for me to give back to my alma mater.”


Former WSUAA presidents have created the Pavish Possibilities Fund to honor Pavish’s service. Visit give.wsu.edu to learn more.