Originally published in the Union College Magazine, Spring 2014
Terri Cerveny started the New Year with a new job, becoming Union’s vice president for College Relations Jan. 1.
She succeeds Stephen Dare, who left after five years to become senior associate vice president for advancement at the University of Rochester.
At Union, Cerveny is responsible for managing alumni relations, development and communications and marketing, along with foundation, corporate and government relations.
She has more than two dozen years of experience in the area of institutional advancement. Most recently, she served as senior vice president and chief development officer for Albany Medical Center and the Albany Medical College (which is part of Union University).
Cerveny is a 1982 graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Read the Q&A below, and get to know her a little better.
What drew you to Union?
Having lived in the area for many years, I have known about Union through its excellent academic reputation. However, it wasn’t until we took my youngest daughter, Kate, on the college tour circuit that I really got to know Union. We decided to start here this winter. Despite the cold and windy day, the faculty and students we met drew us in with their warmth and enthusiasm. And the beauty of Union’s campus – even in the snow – took our breath away. Not only did Union make her list, it made mine too. When I learned about the search for the vice president of College Relations position, I enthusiastically pursued it as I knew that this is where I wanted to be.
What have your first impressions of Union been?
That it is a strong community led by an impressive president with vision, warmth and determination. That the students are smart, talented, focused and committed to improving the world. That we have exceptional faculty and staff dedicated to making Union the best experience it can be for students. That the campus architecture is beautiful and meticulously maintained, I could tell immediately that alumni and College leadership care deeply about stewarding this special institution. In short, everyone I have met has been incredibly kind and welcoming. I feel as though I am “home.”
What are some of Union’s unique strengths?
What makes Union unique? First and foremost, it is our people – our leadership, faculty, staff, students and alumni. Highlighting our strengths from the student perspective, I can proudly say that we have some of the most academically talented, well-rounded, socially conscious students you will find anywhere. To prepare them to contribute and make a difference in the world, Union, a four-year residential liberal arts college, is unique in that it offers interdisciplinary programs that include engineering and the sciences. Our students are taught by outstanding faculty who are leaders in their fields, many of whom also provide a truly exceptional undergraduate research experience to 75% of our students. The tireless work of faculty and staff to secure grants and raise other monies makes this possible. And outside of the classroom our students belong to Minerva Houses, they engage in community service opportunities, athletics, clubs, and the daily life of the Union community. They care about the world and are determined to make a difference in it.
You arrived at the completion of an historic campaign, what are the priorities of College Relations now?
Congratulations to all who participated in the You are Union Campaign. You exceeded your goal by reaching $258 million during the most challenging economic times in our recent history. This is another reason I knew Union and its people were so special. The dedication, devotion and sheer tenacity of Union’s donors, volunteers and staff is something I witnessed very soon after I arrived, and I am honored to be a part of it. I look forward to working with you to build on this momentum and encourage your continued support of our Strategic Plan initiatives – our next building renovations (Karp Hall for the Humanities, the Visual Arts Building, residential student housing and dining), as well as continuing to build the Annual Fund and endowment for faculty and student scholarship support.
What challenges are faced by higher education in general, and how is Union positioned to overcome these challenges?
I see the cost of higher education as one of the most significant challenges higher education faces. That means we must work to address how we keep Union affordable. The total number of Union students requiring financial assistance in order to attend is now over 60%. Thanks to your generosity through the You are Union Campaign, we added 142 new scholarships so we can help to address the $39 million needed in current financial awards for students. Containing costs, applying resources strategically and increasing the number of scholarships we offer will help to make us more affordable, more accessible, and more competitive. Together, we can continue to steward our College toward a future as great as its rich and historic past.
Pets? Hobbies? Favorite sports teams?
In addition to participating in all that Union has to offer, I love to travel and spend time with my family – my husband, John, our three kids, Anna, Ben, and Kate, and two dogs, Willie and Sox. As you might guess, we are huge Red Sox fans! We are adventurous and I love to try new things, like zip-lining in Costa Rica, while also keeping grounded to my favorite activities of kayaking and hiking in the Adirondacks, and yoga. With two kids in college and a third on her way next fall, I cherish our time together as a family.