Chris Marshall '88 will become the associate vice president for alumni affairs at Cornell University June 1.
For 24 years, Chris Marshall ’88 has called Lehigh University home—first as an undergraduate, then for 12 years as the school’s swimming and diving coach and, for the past seven years, as the executive director of the Lehigh University Alumni Association (LUAA).
Over those nearly two-and-half decades on South Mountain, Marshall has made numerous lifelong friends, touched the lives of countless alumni, swum thousands of miles in Jacobs Pool, and has accumulated a treasure-trove of Lehigh memories—not to mention a closet full of brown and white clothing.
So it was with more than a little soul-searching and angst that Marshall has decided to leave his beloved alma mater to become the associate vice president for alumni affairs at Cornell University. He starts his new job June 1.
“I’ve been at Lehigh since I was 18 years old,” Marshall says. “Given my deep roots here at Lehigh, it was going to take something special for me to leave this place. And this is a great opportunity for me professionally and personally.”
In his tenure as executive director of LUAA, Marshall restructured the Lehigh University Alumni Association, developing a state-of-the-art Web site featuring an event management system, a customer-centric alumni database, and an online community; bringing an increased regional and international presence to alumni events; improving the reunion program; focusing on affinity groups, young alumni, and career development programs; reinvigorating the Alumni Admissions Outreach program; and creating the new Association of Student Alumni group (ASA). Under his direction, the Lehigh University Alumni Association received the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Award for Alumni Relations Programs on four occasions.
“Chris’ innovative and energetic leadership has transformed the alumni association and he has been a tremendous asset to the university and our leadership team,” says Lehigh President Alice P. Gast. “All of us in the Lehigh family thank Chris for his many contributions to the university over the years and we wish him the best in his new role at Cornell.”
"Cornell is very fortunate to have Chris in this important position,” said Charles Phlegar, vice president for alumni affairs and development at Cornell. “He possesses a charismatic combination of can-do entrepreneurial spirit and genuine warmth and sensitivity. I am confident that Cornellians will embrace his energetic and visionary leadership and appreciate the many successes he will bring to Cornell and its dedicated alumni community.”
Marshall is proud of the work that he’s done at Lehigh and of the team that he’s assembled in LUAA.
“I’m confident that they will carry on the mission of encouraging Lehigh alumni to be connected, engaged and involved with their alma mater and with each other,” Marshall says.
For Marshall, who graduated from Lehigh with a degree in architecture in 1988, the opportunity to build something new at an Ivy League institution was too enticing to pass up.
“I’ll have the chance to help lead one of the five largest alumni advancement programs in the entire country,” Marshall says.
Marshall credits several current or former Lehigh staff with mentoring him throughout his Lehigh career. Among these are former Vice President Mark Erickson, current Director of Admissions, Bruce Gardiner, and current Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics, Joe Sterrett. Sterrett hired Marshall as swimming coach, where over a 12-year coaching career his teams won five Patriot League Championships and he was recognized as the Patriot League Coach of the Year eight times.
“I’ve known Chris since he visited campus and interviewed in our admissions office as a high school prospect in 1984. I was quite impressed with him then and his entire Lehigh career has only added to my admiration for his talents,” says Sterrett. “Chris has enormous passion and enthusiasm and he applies these qualities to everything he does.”
“I’ll remain a part of the Lehigh family,” promises Marshall. “I’ll just be in a different role as a proud alum and parent instead of Lehigh’s alumni director.”
Photo by Dan Johnson