Robert Catona was not a College Union Board event coordinator before becoming Director. He was not responsible for any portion of event planning, or required to go to any event coordinator meetings.
Catona, a senior interactive multimedia major, was CUB’s graphic artist for two years, making event publicity for all facets of CUB – Live, Rat, STUD, Travel. And despite not having to be a part of the event planning process, he took on the role of unofficial event coordinator anyway. Now he oversees a team of 19 student event coordinators working to bring top-talent acts to TCNJ.
“Even when I first was elected, I always wanted to be around people and help out as much as I could,” he says. “I used to go out and buy all the stuff for STUD events and stuff like that. I used to help with the concerts and help with load-in and everything. I just always liked being around and doing that type of work.”
He credits his time as graphic designer for teaching him all aspects of the event planning process. As opposed to just making a design and showing the finished product, he would work with the event coordinator every step of the way, he says.
And as CUB elections for the 2012-2013 school year drew near, he knew he wanted something more out of his CUB experience.
“I wasn’t satisfied with being one thing and I wanted to go higher,” he said. “And that’s what Director ultimately was. I could oversee all of the events, help out with them all, I just wanted a bigger responsibility.”
To prove to the executive board that he could be Director even though he never held an official event coordinator title, Catona co-planned a lecture featuring Anya Ayoung Chee from Project Runway season nine and a bus trip to The Museum at FIT in New York City. He also helped with preparations for the Spring 2012 Latenighter: Friday Night Fever, An Evening with Seth Meyers Comedy Show, and more.
When it came time for elections to choose the next Director, Catona had been noticed.
“I think the people that had noticed everything I had done thought it was an excellent fit and the other people were like, Really – what? And then everyone started looking more into what I did leading up into elections and ultimately it paid off because I won,” he said.
Since becoming Director, Catona has been able to expand the size of the general board through interactive activities and discussion during meetings, something that has been a challenge for CUB Directors in the past, he said. He also created a Twitter initiative for the spring concert, amassing dozens of new followers in the process.
He has also overcome plenty of event-planning challenges. The original headlining band for the fall concert cancelled right after schoolwide ticket sales, Hurricane Sandy postponed the fall later, and a dangerous snowstorm occurred during the postponed Latenighter.
Nevertheless, Catona keeps his event-planning spirits up and looks forward to the spring concert, new improvements to the Rat shows and the third annual Funival, co-sponsored with Student Government and the Student Finance Board.
Despite all of this, he still loves design and goes back to his roots from time-to-time. It never hurts to have a creative background when it comes to leading the school’s biggest entertainment event programming group after all.