Alumni Relations Welcomes Carolyn Purcell

Crescendo issue: November 2013
"I will miss the great staff, faculty and dedicated alumni that make Interlochen so wonderful."

Those were the words from the former Director of Alumni Engagement, Gary Gatzke, as he spent his last day tying up loose ends and saying his goodbyes on campus.

After seven and a half years of service as the director of alumni engagement, Gary makes his move to the Traverse Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in Traverse City as their Annual Campaign Manager. Gary has represented the TSO as their principal double bassist since 2006. In addition to his work with the TSO, Gary will be expanding his teaching studio, accepting more double bass and cello students. 

"My passion for teaching comes from my teachers growing up in Traverse City and during college at Juilliard," says Gatzke.

While Gary will certainly be missed, his work with alumni will be covered by someone who is no stranger to the position: Carolyn Purcell. "I was so happy to leave the alumni office in Gary's hands when I stepped down in 2006, and I'm proud of him for carrying on the work for more than seven years," says Purcell. "When I attended the Academy's 50th celebration last year, I stood in amazement as I watched something like 700 Academy alumni partying on the Opera Field. He pulled off that reunion, along with successful events all over the country, engaging more alumni in the course of a year than ever before. During his tenure, he did important work with the Interlochen Alumni Organization and helped clarify the mission of the alumni office. And he did it all with his trademark hospitality and good humor. As an alumna, I appreciate Gary's commitment and tireless efforts. He will be missed."

"I've always thought that the alumni office should serve as a liaison between Interlochen and our alumni: celebrating their achievements, keeping them informed about what's going on with Interlochen today, and encouraging them to stay connected and give back," Purcell says of her own vision for the office. "For me, it's all about relationship-building and communication. You also have to be a good listener, our alumni love to tell stories."

"I look forward to working with Tim Dougherty during this transition as we consider how the alumni office can facilitate increased alumni involvement in Interlochen's mission. Beyond that, I hope to continue to foster relationships and communication between Interlochen and our alumni." Purcell holds a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to alumni relations and all things Interlochen, as she has spent many a year on our campus and working on behalf of the Interlochen brand. 

"My first experience with alumni started in September 1984 when I first stepped on the Interlochen campus to begin my junior year at the Academy," began Purcell. "My family lived in Norway at the time, and although I knew of Interlochen as a music camp in Michigan, it was actually an ad for Interlochen Arts Academy in Seventeen magazine that caught my attention, especially when I learned I could major in creative writing. I also discovered a copy of 'Joe Maddy of Interlochen' at a used book sale in Norway, which just piqued my interest even more. It was a rather unconventional path to joining the ranks of Interlochen alumni, but it got me here."

"Professionally, I first joined the alumni office as coordinator of alumni communication and events in January 2004 and then became director of alumni engagement the following year," she continued. "Prior to working for Interlochen, I had worked in publishing and human resources in positions that relied on relationship-building and communication, essential skills for working with alumni. In 2006, my husband's job took us to Denver, Colorado, where I continued to work for the alumni office until the birth of my son, Sebastian, later that year. Even after my formal employment ended, I continued my alumni connection by serving as a class representative for my Academy class of 1986."

"And then two years ago I started writing for Crescendo and other publications on a freelance basis," Purcell said. "My stories have focused on highlighting donors, trustees, and others who have made incredible contributions to Interlochen, many of whom are alumni. I've been so inspired by these people and feel honored to tell their stories each month."

The alumni community is a vital spoke in the wheel that keeps Interlochen turning. Without our alumni and the support that they have offered throughout the years, Interlochen would not be the place that it is today.

"Anyone who attended Camp or Academy (myself included) received so much from Interlochen, education, inspiration, life-long friendships, and more," says Purcell. "Because most of us attended Interlochen at a young age, sometimes it's easy for us to take that experience for granted. But I'd love for each alumnus to think about what would be missing from his or her life without Interlochen. What friendship? What memory? What skill or developmental milestone as an artist? Although Interlochen is always changing and growing, that hasn't changed - young artists still come to Interlochen today to learn, to be inspired, to make friends, and to soak up all that Interlochen offers. I am so honored to be a part of this place."