SIA welcomes new assistant director of alumni relations

Anita Baumann
Anita Baumann Credit: Mary Szmolko

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Anita Baumann jokes that growing up, no one says they want to be an alumni relations professional. But now, just speaking to her, you can sense her passion for the role.

Baumann has joined Penn State Law and the School of International Affairs as the new assistant director of alumni relations, having previously worked as the director of alumni relations at Saint Francis University, her alma mater. Her undergraduate degree in English led her to pursue her master’s in creative writing and publishing from Emerson College, and eventually a career in professional communications in the Washington, D.C., area, her hometown region. But the opportunity to move to Pennsylvania and to pursue a new career in with alumni relations was something she knew she couldn’t pass up. In her time at Saint Francis, she was able to develop the alumni relations program, improving events and expanding communications to include social media and a robust email strategy.

Now at Penn State, she is ready to take on a larger university with different challenges. Penn State Law’s segmented constituency of Dickinson Law alumni, Penn State Law alumni, and Penn State undergraduates with law degrees from other schools is unlike alumni populations at other colleges, and requires a unique approach and diverse perspective. The School of International Affairs is still a relatively young school, so keeping the alumni base connected long-term is key. Baumann brings what she calls “fresh eyes” to the table, and is eager to begin to tackle these challenges.

“The biggest challenge is that the to-do list is very long, but I like being able to hit the ground running,” said Baumann. “We will need to use our creativity to work with the resources available to us to make the A-list items happen.”

Some A-list items include developing master communications and event calendars, working closely with other teams within both schools as well as the Penn State Alumni Association, and making tweaks to processes, like creating an attendee list for invitees to view before they respond to event invites.

“With a fresh-eyes approach, I will look at our events and communications and continue to improve upon the already solid base that we have,” said Baumann. “We will continue to keep the high standard of on- and off-campus events that has already been established.”

While details and planning are a large part of her role, and certainly some of her strengths, Baumann’s favorite part of the job is the people component.

“I like hearing people’s stories about their jobs, their kids, their lives since graduation. Listening to people and understanding them, and keeping them connected to their alma mater is what this job is all about. When people walk away from talking with me, I want them to feel I honored their life experiences by listening to them,” said Baumann.

The first large event that Baumann will be a part of is the upcoming Penn State Law anniversary celebration of ten years of legal education in University Park, scheduled for Oct. 29-30. She is excited to help manage the process and make sure everything flows that weekend. But she is most excited to meet and connect with all of the alumni that will be in for the event, and to give out the first alumni awards in Penn State Law’s history.