Tom Faulders, president and CEO of the University Alumni Association, recently announced his plans to retire in June. Faulders is a 1971 graduate of the University and was selected as Alumni Association president in 2006.
Throughout his 11-year tenure, Faulders worked to fundraise for the association and increase the reach of the Alumni Association’s Virginia Magazine. He is currently helping to plan the University's upcoming bicentennial celebration and serves on multiple University committees. Faulders said he will continue to serve on the Bicentennial Commission through June 2017.
“It will be up to the commission leadership to determine my continued participation,” Faulders said in an email statement. “I will continue as a Trustee with the Jefferson Trust as a regular, as opposed to an appointed, trustee.”
Over the past five years, Faulders said there have been multiple events that have negatively impacted alumni perceptions of the University.
“Each of these need to be addressed with the alumni in a sensitive, yet informative way. Our alumni care deeply about the University and they want to understand as much as possible about both the good and the bad,” Faulders said. “The Alumni Association has played a critical and, I hope, a useful role in helping this understanding.”
Faulders most notably helped to repair the once-strained relationship between the University and the Alumni Association. The University and the Alumni Association had previously disagreed over ways to engage alumni.
In 2002, the University commissioned a blue ribbon committee to look at best in class engagement and a report from the Alumni Relations Task Force in November 2004 outlined an updated plan for alumni engagement.
“There were substantial disagreements on how this should be accomplished and an agreement was reached in February 2005 on how to move forward,” Faulders said. “I arrived in March 2006 and was able to implement this plan in close cooperation with the University.”
Last April, the Alumni Association became the official gift-processing center for the University and helps with the high number of donations and pledges the University receives.
The Alumni Association expanded by 25 percent during Faulders’ term. Faulders said this growth was a result of increased engagement programs to meet the needs of a growing alumni base.
“When I arrived, we had approximately 170,000 alumni and now we have over 225,000,” Faulders said. “And our alumni base skews younger than most with the mean graduation year of 1993, so our focus has naturally shifted accordingly.”
Faulders also expanded the Virginia Magazine to an online platform.
“Today, it continues in print, but it also has digital derivatives, and the social media part of the communications effort has grown dramatically,” Faulders said. “So net, the key changes are related to growth, alumni needs and the explosion of communications techniques.”
Richard Gard, Editor of Virginia Magazine and Alumni Association Vice President for Communications, said Faulders’ leadership and guidance led to the successful expansion of the magazine. One of the most significant successes under Faulders, Gard said, was coverage of the ousting of President Sullivan by the Board of Visitors in June 2012.
“Because of our editorial independence we were able to fill an information void on Grounds. As alumni reaction began to flood in, Tom saw to it that the magazine opened a communication portal so we could relay alumni comments to the Board,” Gard said in an email statement. “There’s a famous picture of Tom hand delivering a stack of thousands of pages of printouts, tied with orange and blue ribbons, to the Board of Visitors.”
Vice President of the Jefferson Trust Wayne Crozart has worked with Faulders since he came to the Alumni Association. Crozart praised Faulders’ work for the association, as well as the University in general.
“Tom is an excellent person to work for. He cares strongly about the University and its alumni,” Crozart said in an email statement. “His goal is to engage and involve as many of the 220,000 alumni as possible in the life of the institution.”
Crozart said that Faulders has broadened the career services program for University alumni, and strengthened the alumni community through the Alumni Interest Group. Additionally, Crozart noted that Faulders improved gift processing by combining multiple processing offices.
“Tom’s past experience as a CFO and CEO has allowed him to bring a business sense to a position that is better known as being a people business,” Crozart said. “This has led to a much more comprehensive operation with both the soft touch of the personal and as well as a strong business approach to alumni affairs.”
Gard also lauded Faulders’ ability to successfully manage and expand the Alumni Association.
“He’s positive and supportive, open-minded yet decisive and, in managing people, he gets the balance right between providing oversight and allowing autonomy,” Gard said. “Add to that his love of the University and you’ve got the perfect match between person and post."
Meredith Jenkins, Alumni Association Board of Managers Vice Chair, is in charge of the 10-person committee to appoint the new Alumni Association president. Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search firm, will also work with the search committee.
University President Teresa Sullivan said Faulders has been an integral component of her administration and the University community in general.
“Tom has been an exceptional leader for the Alumni Association and a valued member of my Cabinet, providing wise counsel to me and other U.Va. leaders over the years,” Sullivan said in an email statement. “By strengthening the Reunions programming, opening new channels of communications with alumni and enhancing careers services for alumni, Tom has strengthened the bonds that connect our loyal alumni to U.Va. and to the association.”
Following his retirement in June, Faulders plans to travel and spend more time with family.
“My wife and I have put off several trips and adventures until I have more time,” he said. “We also have some children and grandchildren to which we would like to pay more attention.”