AUBURN, June 12, 2014 — Debbie Shaw, vice president for alumni affairs at Auburn University and executive director of the Auburn Alumni Association, has announced her retirement after a more than 30-year career with the university. She will step down on Dec. 31, 2014.
Shaw joined the Office of Alumni Affairs in 2003, shepherding the office that serves as a bridge between the university and more than 220,000 Auburn alumni, as well as the Auburn Alumni Association, a donation-based membership 501(c)3 organization comprising some 44,000 Auburn University alumni and friends. The association has one of the highest percentages of members among its university alumni in the Southeastern Conference. Over the course of her tenure in alumni affairs, relationships and collaborations between the university and its alumni have significantly improved, with the association leading the way in new partnerships that have benefited the university and community.
The scholarship endowment funded by the association has increased by several million dollars as Shaw set a priority on raising money for student tuition awards through special projects such as the engraved pavers at the entrance of the Auburn Alumni Center, commemorative bricks from Toomer’s Corner, and collectible items made from the beloved oaks at Toomer’s Corner.
Partnerships with the athletics department also have increased, including development of the “Tiger Trek” program where the head football coach visits designated regions and money is raised for scholarships.
Academics at Auburn have benefited from Shaw’s tenure in alumni affairs as well, with an increased number of Alumni Professors and faculty awards supported by the Auburn Alumni Association as well as a tripling of scholarship funds and endowments raised through Auburn Clubs around the country.
“I am incredibly grateful for the privilege of serving Auburn University for 31 years,” Shaw said. “Auburn gave me my first job, provided wonderful mentors throughout the years, presented great opportunities, and allowed me to learn along the way the value of hard work and all the other special qualities that the Auburn Creed teaches us to live by.”
She said the relationships she’s made over the years are what mean the most. “I have met so many amazing people who have graduated from Auburn that my life has forever been changed for the better. I can honestly say my Auburn family is huge. I leave this position feeling very proud of the progress made by the alumni association and the value placed upon its work by the university.
“My goal is to make the transition of new leadership for my successor an easy and smooth one. The university’s best interests are my priority, as I will forever be an Auburn woman.”
“Debbie’s energy, enthusiasm and ideas touched the lives of countless students and alums through the years,” said Auburn University President Jay Gogue. “Her career is one dedicated to the betterment of Auburn and the Auburn family, and we appreciate all she has accomplished.”
Shaw began her professional career in Student Affairs at Auburn, working the next 20 years in housing and residence life, admissions, student activities and leadership, freshmen orientation, Greek life, and student union operations and programs. While in admissions in 1984, she began AU Student Recruiters, a student-led recruiting organization which assisted admissions counselors in recruiting top students to Auburn.
Shaw was asked to develop Auburn’s first academic orientation course for freshmen in 1991, “The Auburn Experience,” where she co-authored a textbook by that name and taught the course for several years. Shaw was then asked to lead the development of a new summer orientation program, Camp War Eagle, of which she served as director for the program its first five years. This lead to the creation in 1995 of a new department called the Freshman Year Experience, of which she served as director. In 1996, she was named the acting director of the new AU Student Success Center, which included career services, counseling and academic support services.
Shaw later was selected as the director of student activities and Foy Student Union, overseeing student programs, including SGA and Greek Life, and building operations.
Shaw also served as advisor for the Aubie mascot program for 20 years.
Her honors while at Auburn include the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, the Pamela Wells Sheffield Award, Most Outstanding Panhellenic Advisor in the Nation, NASPA Region III Bob Leach Award for Outstanding Service, and the University of South Carolina’s National Freshman Advocate Award.
Shaw is a past president of the Alumni Directors of the Southeastern Conference, a past president of the National Educational Alumni Trust, a past national vice president of her sorority, Phi Mu, and a current national board member of the Council of Alumni Association Executives.
She holds an undergraduate degree from The University of North Alabama, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in higher education administration from Auburn.
Although incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1945, the Auburn Alumni Association traces its history back to the late 1860s as the Society of the Alumni. Today, its mission is to foster and strengthen the relationship between Auburn University and its alumni and friends.
Details concerning a search for a new vice president for alumni affairs will be announced later this summer.
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