Carrie Brown brings experience, Web savvy from previous post at Smith College
“I think it’s an advantage to have all that going on,” said Brown, who was named executive director of alumni affairs this week. “It gives me an opportunity to meet so many people, and that’s what alumni relations is all about — getting to know the constituency well.
“So when I heard about the Centennial Celebration, I thought, ‘What better opportunity could there be?’”
Brown will join Rice on May 14 to take the position held by Ann Peterson, who stepped down last September to become executive director of engagement effectiveness. Brown comes to Houston with a strong background in alumni affairs from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where for 16 years she led an association designed to connect more than 45,000 alumnae.
“Carrie ran one of the best alumnae programs in the country and played a leadership role in executing a bold and compelling Internet strategy at Smith,” said Darrow Zeidenstein, Rice’s vice president for resource development.
“The Smith program is a leader in alumni engagement,” agreed Karen Ostrum George ’77, who served as co-interim director with Karen Rubinsky, Rice’s executive director of development services. “She’s a professional, and she can hit the ground running at this important time for our alumni office. I think she’s going to fit in well with the Rice community.”
“Carrie has a very impressive track record,” said Gloria Meckel Tarpley ’81, president of the Association of Rice Alumni board. “You only need take a look at the Smith website to see what a high-quality program she has run and, as I understand it, built over 16 years.
“She has taken the Smith program into a whole new realm with webinars that include presentations not only by faculty but also by a lot of alumnae,” Tarpley said. “This is the kind of program that would greatly help the lifelong learning mission at Rice continue to unfold, and I would love to see that sort of development here.
“She also has made quite accessible to the alumni, through the Web, what serves as the Smith equivalent of Classnotes,” Tarpley said. “Carrie has made the entire body of alumnae extremely interconnected and very accessible, one to the other, and I think that is a very healthy direction for an alumni affairs program to go in.
“I think she will be a dynamic addition to the alumni affairs team, and a terrific leader going into our centennial,” Tarpley said.
“I love doing alumni relations and I’ve been thinking it might be fun to try something that is a little more in depth and in a place that is a little bigger than Smith, and Rice seemed like the perfect next step,” said Brown, who earned a Master of Education degree at Smith and a bachelor’s in history at St. Lawrence University.
“Certainly, Rice’s reputation is a draw for anyone. And it’s really a privilege to be considered part of the team,” she said.
Rice’s extensive graduate program is also a draw, Brown said.
“Smith has only one official graduate school, but not anything near what Rice has. Graduate schools offer a lot of opportunities in terms of connecting people back to the institution,” she said. “We did a lot of professional conferences for alumni at Smith, and I often thought, ‘Oh, it would be great to have graduate programs, where some scholarly expertise could be brought to bear on the conferences.’ That might be fun to try at Rice.”
Beyond her background in alumni affairs, Brown has experience as a director of development and public programs at Roger Tory Peterson Institute, which carries on the work of the famed naturalist and ornithologist, from 1989 to 1996. She has also worked as a director of admissions and financial aid and as a grade school and kindergarten teacher.
Brown said she’s looking forward to playing a role at a research institution of Rice’s caliber. “I love being part of that kind of community, where there’s a lot of intellectual stimulation and really interesting people doing cutting-edge research, cool stuff that you can connect the alums to,” she said. “I think that’s huge.”