Letter from the Alumni Director

Connecting with Your Alma Mater

Elizabeth Saxman Underwood '01From Birkenstocks to high heels, my academic journey has taken me down many paths. When I received my diploma in 2001, I didn’t know that 16 years later I would return to campus to lead the Alumni Relations Department. Many staff members inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in higher education, and defending my dissertation paled in comparison to the nerves I battled to defend my senior thesis in front of Professor Katz and the intellectual classmates whom I admired. I attribute all of my accomplishments to the academic rigor and student life experiences at UNC Asheville.

That peer feedback matters to me and as your alumni director, I want to ensure we are building an alumni program that reflects the wishes of you—our graduates. How do you want to stay connected to your alma mater? What kinds of services or programming would you like to see?

With all of the exciting things happening with the university, my number one priority is to listen. We’ve had plenty of opportunity to do so since I started in July. I have traveled to Washington, D.C., Raleigh, Wilmington, and places in between to meet with alumni and find out what YOU want to see from your alma mater. It has been a joy to meet so many alumni who are just as passionate about UNC Asheville as I am.

Things on campus have been no less busy. In September, we hosted Homecoming & Family Weekend, where we welcomed more than 200 alumni back to campus. We hosted several events on campus, as well as a kickoff event at Well Played, which is owned by three UNC Asheville graduates, and Green Man Brewery, which is managed by an alumna. We heard from Alex Preston, UNC Asheville sophomore and engineering major, who spoke at the joint meeting of the National Alumni Council and National Parent Council about how his experience at UNC Asheville is enriched by the generosity of alumni who contributed to his scholarship.

In October, New York Times bestselling author and Class of 2000 graduate Wiley Cash released his third novel, The Last Ballad, here at Lipinsky Auditorium, kicking off a nationwide book tour where he met with fellow alumni along the way.

We are busy planning for the future, as the university continues celebrating its 90th birthday. On February 3 we are welcoming alumni back for a Bulldog basketball doubleheader and to celebrate our championship seasons in 1997, 2002, and 2007. We’ll host alumni events throughout the weekend and an Alumni Zone during the games.

We’re also partnering with the Career Center to expand offerings to alumni and to help promote alumni-owned and alumni-managed businesses. If you own a business and want to be featured, please submit a class note at alumni.unca.edu/class-notes.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if there is ever anything UNC Asheville can do for you. My door is always open.

Elizabeth Saxman Underwood ’01, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Alumni Relations // eunderw1@unca.edu // 828-232.5125