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Alumni: Winter 2012
Author: Kathryn Kirkland
Posted: January 18, 2012


Bringing an adventurous approach

TOM BULL, PSU’s new alumni director, is not known for spending much time at his desk. He once took a group of intrepid alumni on a continent-hopping excursion to Antarctica.

It was the trip of a lifetime—and a bonding experience for the alumni who went on it. They walked through a colony of penguins that were every bit as pesky as pigeons in a city park. They watched the sun set and then, within minutes, watched it rise again. The strangeness of Antarctica’s landscape made them like it all the more.

Bull now brings his adventurous spirit to PSU, where in October he was named executive director of the PSU Alumni Association and the Alumni Engagement office, located in the Simon Benson House. He takes the word engagement seriously, vowing to connect alumni to the University and with each other—maybe even including a trip to Antarctica.

Bull has held alumni positions at Northwestern University—which organized the trip he led to Antarctica—as well as Loyola and DePaul universities. He came to PSU from Bastyr University, a private natural medicine school in the Seattle area, where he built the alumni engagement office from the ground up.

“We are delighted that Tom shares our vision for a deeper connection to our 130,000 PSU alumni,” says Catherine Faris, associate vice president for advancement, who presided over the national search that led to Bull’s selection.

AT PORTLAND STATE, Bull wants alumni to see the University as an “invaluable resource where they can enhance their skill set and become more marketable,” he says. He expects to reach out to alumni around the country to strengthen their connections to the University. There are more than 20 major cities in the United States, including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, with clusters of 300 or more PSU alumni. However, the more than 84,000 alumni living in the Portland metropolitan area are his top priority.

Reaching out to current Portland State students is also on his agenda. Bull wants alumni to help by volunteering at campus functions or mentoring students. While at Northwestern, Bull provided career advice to students, and still keeps in touch with some of them.

“There is such strength in those early connections that we make with students,” says Bull.

Once you’ve been to Antarctica, almost any connection at all seems like it’s right next door.

Top photo: New Alumni Director Tom Bull was wowed by Antarctica when he led a group of alumni there years ago.

Right photo: Bull brings that sense of adventure to Portland State, where he has already enjoyed a Viking football game with (left to right) Behzad Hosseini ’96, MBA ’97; President Wim Wiewel; and David Keys ’81, MBA ’92. Keys is the current president and Hosseini is the immediate past president of the PSU Alumni Association Board of Directors.