April, 2010New UTSA alum director faces big task
Web Posted: 04/05/2010
If Jim Mickey's run as head of alumni programs at the University of Texas at San Antonio is anything like his time as a student, the man will leave a lasting imprint.
In the late 1970s, Mickey and his friends launched a major public relations campaign to get the roadrunner elected the school mascot, narrowly rescuing future students and alumni from a lifetime of armadillo ball caps, bulky costumes and defense of a mascot that burrows into the ground at the first sign of conflict.
“We were real passionate about UTSA and our future. And we were pretty motivated not to be the armadillos,” chuckled Mickey, now 53. “It's funny how all that came together.”
Mickey, a former telecommunications executive, has been named director of alumni programs, starting April 15. He replaces Jane Burton, who is retiring after 33 years at UTSA.
“We are so excited. It is a wonderful thing for UTSA,” Burton said of Mickey's selection. Mickey, former chief operating officer at Pocket Communications, has been an active alumnus for many years, sitting on the board of the alumni association, emceeing the annual ring ceremony, and giving money for student scholarships and athletics, Burton said.
Mickey has lived and traveled around the country working for AT&T, Sprint and Pocket, but he wanted to stay in San Antonio. When the UTSA job opened up, it seemed like a perfect fit.
“At this point in my career it is not all about the money, it is about giving back to the university. They really needed someone to step up, and I really do feel honored that I was chosen to do this,” he said.
Mickey takes over at a historic juncture. UTSA is embarking on its first-ever capital campaign, launching a football team and transforming itself into a Tier One research university.
Pride is growing, but Mickey's task of engaging UTSA's 78,000 graduates is not easy. UTSA was founded in 1969, so many of its alumni still are young and are busy with families and climbing the career ladder.
Around 50,000 alumni live in and around San Antonio, but only 3,500 are active members of the alumni association.
“Clearly, there is an opportunity to reconnect the alumni to the university,” Mickey said.
When football comes, alumni may stampede to the stadium, but Mickey also wants to lure them into the classroom as guest speakers, visitors and mentors.
Becoming more savvy about technology and social networking will be crucial to connecting with younger alumni, he said. Donating by text message worked spectacularly well for Haiti, so why not UTSA?
“If you can make it easy for them to give, little numbers can add up to big numbers at the end of the day,” Mickey said. “Even if they start small, now they have connected and will find it easier to give in the future.”
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Researcher, Advancement Services
The University of Texas at San Antonio