Candy Guedry: Building a Community

Fall 2011 | Article by Robert M. Morris

Candy Guedry: Building a CommunityOut of Candy Guedry’s many years working at Tulane, she says the most exciting by far have been the last four, reaching out to multiple generations of scientists and engineers to help build the identity of the School of Science and Engineering.

As the dean’s program manager, Candy spearheads publicity, events and alumni relations for the school, as well as its unique website and new quarterly electronic newsletter. Candy came to the dean’s office in 1991, and she moved into her new role in 2007, not long after the creation of the new combined school.

“When we were making all the changes, I met with her and brought this up, and I could just see her eyes light up,” said Dean Nick Altiero. “It worked out immediately. She took it on with relish.”

In addition to the ongoing work of planning the school’s events, Candy’s first major task was a total redesign of the school’s website. With nearly every element on the new home page a moving part – from news, events, departmental highlights and images – Candy said our goal was for the website to reach not only the students and faculty who make daily use of it, but also the industry leaders and new student prospects for whom a visit to the site will create a crucial first impression of the school.

“She’s been so effective in managing the web activities because she understands the importance of creating our identity and showcasing it to all our constituents,” said Sandra Parker, the school’s assistant dean for finance and personnel. “She understands that it’s important to have our name out there.”

“Once I moved into this new role, this was on the top of the list of assignments from Dean Altiero,” Candy said of the web redesign. “What people see on your website is like the window into your world. That’s what people see of you and it’s what you represent to the world. They think, if it’s not on your website, then you’re not doing it so I totally understood the dean’s concept for the redesign to reflect all of the cutting edge activities happening throughout the school with an appearance that would appeal to all constituents.”

The last of the school’s new departmental sites launched at the beginning of the fall semester, moving Candy into more of a role that allows her to take on new projects. Chief among her goals, she said, is to begin expanding the school’s growing alumni council, which seeks to create agents for each class of Tulane science and engineering graduates who can reach out to their peers and spur alumni involvement. Their voices, she said, will contribute to the growth of a dynamic school.

“We want to start spreading this out and give all science and engineering graduates the opportunity to get involved in all of the exciting and progressive things happening in the new school,” Candy said.

The first Science and Engineering Alumni Awards celebration was held in 2009 and each year since then it has been our privilege to recognize alumni from science and engineering majors who have made outstanding contributions in their fields and outstanding contributions to the school and university. We look forward to continuing this new tradition, Candy said.

Other new additions to enhance science and engineering alumni initiatives was the formation of two alumni relations committees in the new school; one comprised of SSE Advisory Board members and the other an internal school committee comprised of faculty representatives from the science and engineering majors. The ongoing success of the Science and Engineering Alumni Awards celebration is a testament to the diligent efforts of both committees.

Enhancing the alumni section on the web is also something that Candy is looking forward to. When communications begin to grow by creating a Facebook page and Twitter and Linkedin accounts for the school, she expects to really grow the alumni news section.

“In all of the roles I’ve filled at Tulane, including my present one, the one thing that I have always loved the most about all of them are the opportunities to interact with such wonderfully diverse and incredibly fascinating individuals,” said Candy. “I am really looking forward to communicating with alumni and all of our constituents on those social and professional networks to learn what people are doing and what their ideas and interests are about the SSE.”

The notion of alumni involvement is one the school has been particularly careful about, because technically, the school has no “alumni.” Prior to the creation of the school, undergraduate students received their degrees from Arts and Sciences, Newcomb College, Tulane College or the School of Engineering and graduate students received their degrees from the Graduate School. Now all undergraduates are enrolled in Newcomb-Tulane College regardless of major while graduate students are directly enrolled in the individual schools.

The school has successfully managed to begin building its community while respecting this distinction, Candy said. Candy also said that the remarkable successes that have been achieved in the School of Science and Engineering are primarily a result of Dean Altiero’s vision, incredible leadership, and especially his deep commitment.

“It’s really a brand new model that we are learning as we go. We would never try to convince anyone they were alumni of the School and Science and Engineering when we were only a year old,” Candy said. “We will never expect anyone who graduated from another school at Tulane prior to the reorganization to consider themselves a graduate of the School of Science and Engineering. But we want all of those graduates from the degree majors that are part of the new school to have the opportunity to contribute and be a part of developing the direction the school is going to take.”

Candy’s inclusive spirit and deep love of the school, Altiero said, made her a natural liaison to the diverse group of people associated with it over the years.

“She’s incredibly loyal to the school and our mission,” Altiero said. “You’re not going to be good at selling the school to the outside world if you don’t believe in it yourself, and she’s sincere.”

“Change is inevitable, but the thing that remains the same, is that Tulane continues to attract dynamic faculty and dynamic students,” Candy said.

In 2001, President Cowen introduced an annual recognition program for staff members. Each year a committee representing a cross section of the university community selects the winners from nominations by their colleagues. The program recognizes up to ten staff members whose commitment has advanced the mission of Tulane through increased productivity, cost savings, humanitarianism or enhanced objectives. In 2008, Candy was selected as one of the ten staff members who received the Staff Excellence Award for her outstanding ability to initiate and develop enhanced objectives.

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