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Meet Campus Celeb, Laurie Kelley!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Portland chapter.

Meet Laurie Kelley, Vice President of University Relations at UP!

How did you get started with UP? What were you doing before this?

I actually saw the position advertised in the Oregonian.  At the time, I was taking a brief break from a very busy career to focus on my family – my husband and our four children.  I wasn’t looking to make a career move but I had always wondered about the University of Portland since graduating from Notre Dame and moving to Portland in the mid 1980’s.  I knew there was an association between UP and ND but I wasn’t clear on the connection.  My career has included work in finance, strategic planning and marketing.  Before coming to UP, I was the Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Planning at Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB).

How has your role changed since being at UP?

When I was hired, my responsibilities included the oversight of marketing and communications, the mail center and the print shop.  Last year, I became the Vice President of University Relations so now I lead the departments of Alumni Relations, Development, University Events, Marketing/Communications, the Mail Center and the Print Shop.

What are the main components of your job?

I get to work with really talented people to promote the University, fundraise for scholarships, new buildings and programs, put on amazing events and connect with our alumni. I have the best job in town.

What do you view as your biggest accomplishment here?

Thus far, I think our biggest accomplishment (and I say “our” accomplishment because I cannot take credit for the work of so many dedicated people working together) has been the increased reputation and awareness of the University, and the work marketing did in coordination with development to create and develop the Rise Campaign, which raised $182 million for UP.  I am also proud to be the first female officer in the University’s history. 

What is your favorite part of the job?

My favorite part is working with the people – my team, the board, our donors, alumni, parents and especially getting to know our students.  I enjoy what transpires out of really great teamwork.  I love being around and getting to know the great young people who attend UP.  It makes me hopeful for the future.

What do you love about UP?

The people – see above!  And the campus, it is so beautiful.  I get happy every morning when I get to go to work.  I love pulling into the parking lot and thinking about what exciting things might be brewing for the day.  I really enjoy the people who work here – at every level – people are so dedicated.  And I love seeing the students every day and getting to know many of them. I realize that most people do not love their jobs.  I do.  It is a real blessing to be excited and energized by the challenges of one’s job.  

What’s next? Any big upcoming events/projects you are excited about?

There has been an increased desire from students to remain on campus which is really exciting to me.  I lived in the dorms at ND through my senior year and then lived in grad student housing there while earning my MBA.  So many memories and life lessons were created in those dorms and I am still in touch with women from my hall today, more than 30 years after I graduated.  So I am very excited that residence life is seeing a real uptick in interest and I am excited to work on fundraising for a new residence hall to keep more students living on campus. 

I am also excited about opening the Beauchamp Center and the Pilot House this fall.  In the future, we need more classroom space and faculty offices so I look forward to working on fundraising for a new academic building.  And the River Campus – so much possibility!  Beyond this, scholarships – I had a difficult and stressful time funding my own college education so I am always motivated to find scholarship dollars so students can come to UP and graduate in 4 years.  I am very dedicated to finding more resources for deserving students.  And, in marketing, we’ve done a good job of letting people know how great UP is, but we still have work to do.  In alumni relations, we have a new director and he is really working hard to develop more networks of great alumni volunteers in our major market areas to help us spread the great news of UP and help in recruiting new students and engaging our alumni. 

We are also excited about unveiling a new website within the next year – our website is several years old, and not mobile friendly, so we are overdue on making improvements to it.  The new website will be a complete overhaul.  There is always something big going on and I am excited to work with our new President, Fr. Mark Poorman, C.S.C. to accomplish his goals for UP!