On September 15th, I started a new position back at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky.
As one might expect, the prospect of a new job is always a bit unsettling – a time of doubts, anxiousness, and stress. A move, particularly one across the state is taxing, both physically and mentally.
After one week at work though, I can safely say that I feel great! When speaking to an old friend this evening, he said “You sound much lighter than in previous weeks.” To be honest, I do. I find that there is a calming sensation whenever I find myself in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right moment. I feel incredibly calm.
To be sure, there is stress associated with the new job. So much to learn, to master. My role, as Director of the Annual Fund and Alumni Relations, is one with certain expectations, and an important aspect of that role is the fundraising component. Despite this, I feel remarkably excited and invigorated for the challenge.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of my job is the donor education component. Many donors fail to realize, and perhaps we have failed to successfully convey, that tuition only covers about 70% of our operating expense. The purpose of the Annual Fund is to help meet the remaining need in that operating expense. The Annual Fund is also the measure for our alumni participation rate, which is an important metric when applying for grant and foundational money. Over the coming months, I’ll endeavor to educate our current alums, as well as design an educational plan to inform our current students about the importance of philanthropy.
In addition to the change of career pace (and trajectory), there has been the re-acclimatization to small town life. Having spent the past four years in Louisville, I had grown accustom to a different lifestyle. Barbourville is a dry city, which is quite the polar opposite from Louisville. While many things have remained the same, a number of things have changed, and should make the transition easier. The addition of a busy farmer’s market, featuring local crops is a welcome addition in a town where the grocery store’s produce is often prohibitively expensive. An active tourism commission seeks to draw new faces (and new tax revenues) to the community.
I hope to maintain this level of optimism – I really do feel great about this change. If you find yourself with a little extra money this month, I’d also encourage you to give to Union. Your gift is completely tax deductible, and supports the educational mission of an institution of higher learning that is truly committed to the community and the Appalachian region.