Part of something special
New Alumni Relations Executive Director Kathy Barnard proud to be back among the Vandal family
The marble-topped stairs on the north wing of the University of Idaho’s Administration Building have been worn smooth by the feet of thousands and thousands of Vandals over the past century.
Kathy Barnard’s feet were among them.
It’s just one of the places on campus where she has found herself having to pause and reflect on the journey that took her from a journalism student to the new executive director of the Office of Alumni Relations.
“I catch myself at places on campus, and all of these memories come flooding back to me — and they’re all happy,” said Barnard ’81.
Barnard stepped into the alumni relations role in January. She has extensive strategic marketing and leadership experience, most recently serving as the executive director of University Communications at Washington State University.
Even though her work at WSU kept her on the Palouse, Barnard said she missed the UI community.
“I love this place,” she said. “My lifelong friends are the ones I’ve met here at UI. It feels good to come home.”
Barnard sees the new position as “the ultimate ambassadorship,” one that requires building a strong, two-way relationship between the university and its graduates. Together with UI’s recently appointed Vice President for Advancement Mary Kay McFadden, Barnard spent the spring traveling around the state, meeting with alumni groups and reintroducing herself to the Vandal family.
“At the end of my tenure, whenever that is, I hope that alumni in general have a deeper understanding of what it means to be part of the Vandal family,” Barnard said. “If you’re a Vandal, you’re part of something special.”
As executive director, Barnard supports the goals of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, oversees off-campus alumni programs and events, chapters, affinity and advocacy programs, and the Vandal Ambassador Network.
She encourages alumni to stay connected with the university, participate in events and stay informed about changes on campus by reading the Vandal Vibe enewsletter. Alumni can also email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. An engaged alumni base is vital to the university’s overall success.
“At a recent Silver and Gold event in Boise, I said I had the best job at the university — and it’s true,” Barnard said. “I get to do things that are fun, important and meaningful, and it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Article by Savannah Tranchell, University Communications & Marketing