On commencement day 2011, more than 1,000 new alumni and their families stopped by the Ford Alumni Center. There, they were greeted by the new “mayor”of UO alumni—Tim Clevenger ’86.
Clevenger, who began as executive director of the UO Alumni Association on May 31, estimates he personally shook hands with more than 100 graduating Ducks—just the first step in fostering what he hopes will become their lifelong connection to the UO.
While it’s expected that the director of the alumni association would champion that connection—that’s the job, after all—there’s seemingly not a drop of artificiality in Clevenger’s green-and-yellow blood. He’s as fervent when talking about his own UO experience as he is when talking about the work itself, his family, or even his plans for the weekend.
Clevenger says the UO was a transformational time for him and for his wife of twenty-five years, Lisa ’87. From tiny Terrebonne, north of Redmond in central Oregon, he was a bootstrap kid who was driven to succeed. He spent his first year at Central Oregon Community College, working and banking money. To save tuition costs at the UO he “worked like mad to finish in two-ish years.” He and Lisa met during his last term. He was a charter member of the Lambda Chi house, and she, a Delta Gamma; they were pinned three weeks after meeting and married eight months later. While she finished her degree in education, Clevenger, who graduated with a degree in journalism focused on advertising (it balanced his love for art and creativity with his passion for business, he says), stayed in Eugene, working at radio station KUGN in its advertising department for a short time before starting his own advertising agency, ClevengerWesting. Six years later, with two partners, he started another agency, SPC, which grew to have offices in Eugene, Bend, and Seattle. After eight years, he left in 2000 to join the Papé Group, a diversified Eugene-based company specializing in capital equipment products and services.
He had reached the ceiling at the Papé Group after spending more than ten years as its vice president of marketing and brand management (“unless Susie Papé [’72] wanted to adopt me, there was really nowhere else to go,” he laughs). He remembers the late Randy Papé ’72 with admiration. “Randy was the type of boss who would say, ‘Why are you coming to me with a problem? Go fix it.’ He empowered people to do what was right.”
Clevenger’s UO connection remained strong: He’s taught advertising courses as an adjunct professor and served on the School of Journalism and Communication’s Advancement Council, on the board of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, and as president of the UOAA. Former executive director Dan Rodriguez’s retirement provided the ideal opportunity for Clevenger to fuse his extensive marketing experience with his love for the UO and to find career advancement in Eugene, where his two children, Delaney, seventeen, and Carson, fourteen, attend Sheldon High School.
His first 100 days on the job have been busy: meeting people on campus, from the deans and development officers of the UO’s schools and colleges to the director of the Museum of Natural and Cultural History; getting to know the UOAA’s staff of twelve; and thinking about ways to connect alumni back with their school. In fifteen minutes, he shares at least that many ideas: mentoring experiences, participating in long-range planning discussions, networking with members of the UO’s twenty-one alumni chapters. Make no mistake, he has a strategic plan. “There are currently about 16,000 members out of just over 200,000 living alumni. That’s a lot of potential and, yes, I would love to see all alumni become members of the UOAA.”
Unlike his predecessor, Clevenger does not play golf, but spends his leisure time running marathons, hiking, and traveling—and being with his family. And of course, attending Duck games.
“Tim has so much energy for the things he is passionate about,” says Lisa Clevenger. “He is such an involved dad, wanting to know and be a part of every little part of what is going on in his kids’ lives.”
She says she and Tim “never really grew out of our Greek days. Our family is filled with a sense of adventure and lots of social activities. We like to have big parties, and Tim always leads the way with the best costume for the event. Our last event was St. Patrick’s Day, and Tim was quite the leprechaun.”
Not surprising for someone whose new job is all about the green (and yellow).
—By Zanne Miller, MS ’97