From organized alumni travel trips to events at Disneyland, California State University, Fullerton has its alumni relations strategy down. Read on to see how Justin Gerboc manages it all.
1. What's your role at California State University, Fullerton? What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m the Director for Alumni & Campus Communities at CSUF. I manage a wide range of activities from partnerships with departments across campus to alumni data and a fledgeling alumni volunteer program. I oversee our student outreach initiatives and departmental programs/events as well.
A typical day often includes a combination of meetings, emails, and spreadsheets. Typically I’ll have strategy sessions with the staff I supervise or check in with them on their current projects. I will reach out to connect with a campus department to support them in their alumni engagement efforts and talk them through our resources and expectations. I will also do a fair amount of data processing and analysis – especially since we just transitioned our database. We are doing integrity checks and learning the new methods for performing our ongoing tasks. Finally, there are the events where I will either host an alumnus to help make introductions or cultivate new alumni relations and steward long time volunteers/donors.
2. What projects are you working on at the moment?
One of my most exciting projects of the moment is bringing back our Black Alumni Network. It is providing me with an opportunity to operate at the true intersection between our alumni community and student success. We want to help make our black and African American alumni community more accessible to our students so they can get the support and resources they need to be successful.
Another big project is our alumni engagement data. We are working on finding ways to gather, track, and report on the metrics outlined by CASE
. In the midst of a database transition, we are also trying to establish new protocols for data entry and clean up the information that has been migrated.
Lastly, I am also working on a university-wide strategic plan implementation committee. We are trying to appropriately integrate alumni volunteerism into the fabric of the university. Part of this project is a university-wide alumni volunteer census. We are also trying to survey our students to learn where some of the most relevant alumni engagement may already be taking place.
3. What are your goals for the school year? What challenges do you face?
This year we began the year down three staff members out of seven. One of those vacancies was in our Assistant Vice President role. That meant that survival and staying as close to the status quo as possible was the primary goal with diminished staff being the largest challenge. The team really pulled together to help us get to the point where we were able to fill all of the vacancies and prepare to launch into the last quarter and a half of the year.
4. Can you tell us more about the Alumni Trips CSUF puts on? What makes you choose one travel destination over another?
We have a travel company as a partner who selects our travel destinations. While we could choose to reduce the number of trips we offer, we have elected to keep the full menu available. This is in part due to the fact that we just launched the full program about a year ago. We want to see what sort of travel opportunities our alumni find most appealing. From there, we may elect to reduce our offerings to allow us to better focus our marketing efforts.
5. What are some of your more popular alumni events?
We have a few events that tend to get a lot of enthusiasm from our community. One of them is our Dinner with 12 Titans.
It’s a model adapted from UCLA where alumni will host meals in their homes or local restaurants for a group of eight to 20 students. Everyone who participates in the program, whether they be alumni or students, really finds the program enjoyable and enlightening. Our university president, although not an alumnus of CSUF, even hosts one each semester. Another highly popular one is our Night of the Pachyderm
baseball tailgate where alumni, students, family, and friends join us in the parking lot for great food and drink, games, and a live alumna-led band. We hear from one of the team coaches and the president before heading into the stadium to cheer on the team. Our most popular event ever was the night we took over Disneyland for our university’s 60th
Anniversary. We did an After Dark at Disneyland Park
where over 9,000 of our guests got all of Disneyland to themselves for an evening. We have such strong ties to the park since we are only 10 miles away and many of our students work part-time jobs there. Some of our Alumni Association board members are executives with the company.
6. Tell us a little bit about yourself! What do you do when you're not working?
I am fortunate enough to live in an amazing location in Southern California. Growing up in a rural town on the East Coast, everything fun felt like it was two or more hours away. I now live at the intersection of Los Angeles city life, Temecula wine country, and Orange County beach towns. My favorite thing is going to concerts and other live performances. I typically see 10-15 concerts a year, and I thoroughly enjoy exploring new music on the International Day of Music in June when all of the local shops in the town where I live feature various free live performances all day.
Interviewed by our Sales Executive, Kiana Noble, who is a CSUF Alumane.