Kerry Gotham received his master’s degree in Higher Education in 2000 while working for Syracuse University’s Office of Student Living. After graduation, he moved into the field of development and alumni relations, first at Nazareth College—his bachelor’s degree alma mater—and then at SUNY-Brockport. He is former President of the State University of New York Council for University Advancement.
Describe your current roles and its responsibilities.
As Director of Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving at SUNY-Brockport for more than 11 years, I led the alumni engagement and annual giving program. In February 2023, I became Director of Development.
How did the School of Education prepare you for this role?
The Higher Education program exposed us to all functional areas of higher education and how best to navigate them, regardless of the area we would eventually choose. It encouraged us to stay relevant on best practices, while also pushing boundaries to find new ways of providing the best possible student experience.
What current trends do you see in your specialty and how are you addressing them?
Higher education is facing some difficult challenges these days including public perceptions questioning the value of a degree, enrollment challenges, and budget shortfalls. Our alumni are our best ambassadors and are some of the strongest voices for our institutions and for higher education in general.
However, we need to make sure that we are communicating and keeping them connected using all of the tools at our disposal, which are varied through the different generations. By keeping alumni connected we can meet them where they are and tap into their interests, whether it be supporting the institution financially, volunteering their time, directly connecting with students, or simply being an engaged ambassador.
Which faculty members stood out for you most as a student at SOE?
Professors Cathy Engstrom and Patricia Tinto were two of the best in the business, and I find myself sitting at my desk sometimes reverting back to some of the lessons and processes that they laid out to best navigate concerns and ultimately turn it back to how it benefits students.
No matter what our job duties are, we can never lose sight that we are helping to change lives and affect generations into the future.
Make a pitch for SOE—why should a prospective student choose the School of Education?
Great faculty, innovative teaching, hands on experience, and a world-class institution. You gotta check out the ’Cuse!