Region’s largest alumni network attracts new leadership

Jennifer Jezek-Taussig

Jennifer Jezek-Taussig joined UMSL as associate vice chancellor for alumni engagement and annual giving programs Feb. 29. (Photo by August Jennewein)

St. Louis is a large metropolitan region with a know-your-neighbor Midwest vibe. So it’s no surprise that the University of Missouri–St. Louis has tapped nearby Webster University veteran Jennifer Jezek-Taussig as its new associate vice chancellor for alumni engagement and annual giving programs.

“UMSL’s alumni network is large and diverse,” said Jezek-Taussig. “And those ‘I Chose UMSL’ billboards – well, they’re everywhere. You can’t miss the effect UMSL has on St. Louis, and I’m extremely excited to be in the family.”

Still, leaving Webster as its associate vice president of alumni relations wasn’t easy, she said, adding that “the opportunity to work at a public institution with a teaching, research and service mission with excellent accreditations and rankings just seemed too good to pass up.”

Among Jezek-Taussig’s first tasks after starting Feb. 29 was meeting with campus staff and administrators, as well as alumni leaders. Her second day on the job was co-hosting UMSL’s legislative reception in Jefferson City, Mo., held the evening before the annual University of Missouri System Legislative Day event. It hasn’t slowed up much since.

Catching a moment with the fast-paced Jezek-Taussig was no easy task, but UMSL Daily was able to get some answers to our most probing questions.

What’s your ‘I Chose UMSL’ story?

I chose UMSL because of its mission and people. Have you seen the list of notable alumni? They have taken their UMSL education into the world and are doing some amazing things.

What are your goals for the unit?

The UMSL Alumni Association underwent a transformation last year when it dropped its dues-paying model and launched the “You Belong” campaign. Every graduate is a member without paying dues! We will continue to build this foundation and do more outreach to connect alumni in many different ways with their alma mater. We will also work to integrate annual giving into alumni engagement.

Left-handed or right-handed?

Right-handed.

Coffee – black, cream, sugar, artificial sweetener, honey?

I prefer Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper for my caffeine fix, although I’m trying to quit both and drink more water.

Country or rock?

Preferably rock, but I grew up in Oklahoma listening to and loving Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams and Roger Miller, among others. My kids laugh at me when I sing “You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd.”

Mountains or oceanfront?

Definitely oceanfront. My two favorite places are Pemaquid Point on the coast of Maine and a small 1950s motel called “Wright by the Sea” in West Palm Beach, Florida. I think oceans are awe-inspiring.

(Alumni and others wishing to contact Jezek-Taussig about alumni operations can call 314-516-5833 or email jezektaussig@umsl.edu. You might even set up a meeting to talk music or share a Diet Coke or Dr. Pepper. Bring your own coffee, though.)

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