By Clara-Meretan Kiah and Todd Ellenberg
Brian Breittholz is FIU's new associate vice president for alumni relations and chief alumni officer.
Breittholz, an accomplished higher education leader with a wealth of experience in alumni relations, development, student affairs and communications, joins FIU after serving seven years as Cleveland State University’s (CSU) assistant vice president for alumni affairs and executive director of the university’s alumni association.
During his tenure at CSU, Breittholz dramatically increased the volume and variety of activities to engage the school’s 130,000 alumni, ranging from programming and events, chapter activities, and volunteer engagement to alumni awards, member benefits, and communications and outreach. He leveraged his prior capital campaign experience to help launch the $100 million Engage for CSU, the university’s first comprehensive campaign, closely aligning engagement programs with campaign priorities. He managed a $1 million-plus annual budget and a team of 11 associates.
"We are very excited to welcome Brian to the FIU Alumni family,” said two-time alumnus and president of the FIU Alumni Association Michael Hernandez. “I look forward to working with him and drawing from his extensive professional experience as we endeavor to better serve the 260,0000-strong Panther alumni community and provide new, innovative, engaging and exciting programming and content to our alumni.”
Prior to CSU, Breittholz was senior alumni programs officer of the Indiana University Alumni Association and served in several roles during his 19 years at Miami University: director of alumni education and associate director of the alumni association; director of Advancement and Development for Student Affairs; and director of Greek Affairs. He started his career at the University of Akron, where he was assistant director of Student Development and coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
“We are delighted that Brian, a professional with such an esteemed record of accomplishment, is joining our FIU team,” said Howard R. Lipman, FIU senior vice president of University Advancement and CEO of the FIU Foundation, Inc. “With his leadership, we look forward to strengthening engagement with our ever-growing alumni base, who are a significant asset to the university and our community.”
Breittholz earned a bachelor’s degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University (OU) and a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from OU. He succeeds Duane Wiles, who left FIU last year to become associate vice chancellor of Alumni Affairs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
"To say I'm excited to join the FIU community is an understatement," Breittholz said. "I'm so impressed with our accomplishments, and believe we have unlimited opportunities to leverage the pride and the passion of our alumni to further advance FIU for generations to come."
FIU News sat down with Breittholz to learn more about him and his new role:
FIU News:You've spent much of your life in the Northern and Midwest U.S. Are you looking forward to establishing new roots?
Breittholz: I’m looking forward to beginning this new chapter in my life as a new Floridian. I was born and raised in New York (with a brief stint in Broward County) and spent my professional career in the Midwest. I plan on immediately trading in my snow boots for a pair of sandals.
FIU has a vast and ever-growing alumni base that spans the world over. It is also a relatively young university with a large proportion of alumni who were nontraditional students during their studies. How can we, as a university, work to serve and engage such a diverse and extensive community of Panthers?
I truly enjoyed working with our nontraditional students/alumni while I led Cleveland State’s alumni program. These students bring rich life experiences to the classroom, balance so many different life demands, and genuinely appreciate the education they received from our faculty. I am excited to work hand-in-hand with FIU's diverse alumni groups as our team strives to be a resource to them. The FIU Alumni Association recognizes and values the contributions of all of our alumni and seeks to find ways to engage Panther alumni at different life stages, with different life interests. We are here for each and every graduate, and future graduates.
We know that alumni play a key role in the vitality and continued success of their alma mater. What can Panthers do to stay engaged with FIU, and why it is important to stay connected to the alma mater even many years after graduation?
Being a student is just the beginning of the FIU experience. Whether you’re enrolled as an undergraduate or in one of our graduate/professional programs, you’re a Panther for life. There are so many ways to connect and engage, whether it’s through attending a networking/social event, attending an athletic event or cultural experience, recruiting future students to FIU, mentoring a current student, advocating for FIU with lawmakers, or making a regular gift to support programs that are meaningful for you…the opportunities are plentiful.