SUCCESS STORY – Troy University Alumni Association

“I look at the ornament as an opportunity to recognize volunteers; it isn’t always for a tree.”

Suzanne Buchanan

Volunteer Coordinator, Troy University Alumni Association

The Alumni Association helps fund scholarships, sponsor alumni events and promote the mission of Troy University. Since its inception in 1887, Troy University has made great strides. It has become a world‐wide institution with nearly 30,000 students, located on four Alabama campuses and with more than 60 sites, in fifteen U.S. states and eleven foreign nations.

Faith West Ward is an Alabama native. A fan of sports, she would often go to see games at Troy University as a child. She attended both undergraduate and graduate school at TROY and after graduation continued on to a career in the state. However, her connection with her alma mater never waned: she constantly promoted and sang the praises of her school to the people around her. In 1997, the Alumni Director position became available, and she jumped at the chance to do something for the University she has cherished since childhood.

Ward had traveled in previous positions to various trade shows and seen organizations use the Beacon Design ornament as a means to thank donors, celebrate milestones, raise funds, and promote school spirit to alumni. When she started at TROY, she knew that an annual ornament collection was something she felt strongly about having for her school.

In 1999, the annual ornament program began. The first ornament was of the TROY logo and each piece after that, represented a momentous event, theme or special architectural facet of the University. In 2005 TROY changed its name from Troy State University to Troy University and a whole new branding campaign was launched. The ornament was the perfect vehicle to announce the new name/logo to alumni and supporters. Faith also decided that in 2007, when Troy celebrated 120 years, that the ornament would be a perfect commemoration of that important milestone.

Faith is a true visionary, raising thousands of dollars for her Alumni Association by creating timeless keepsakes that her donors and supporters have become collector’s of.

The ornament is sold annually through the alumni office and it is part of a year‐long campaign. They start by launching the new keepsake at their first home game and it adorns a beautiful tree in the alumni association’s sky box, where people can purchase their own special memento. The ornaments are then sold at all tailgates, chapter meetings and other school functions. The finale comes at the Christmas Tree Lighting at the last football game of the season.

The pieces are marketed to faculty, students and alumni alike through the website and emails. Both recent graduates and seasoned alumni are very enthusiastic about the ornaments. Whether they want the whole set or the specific year in which they graduated, the anticipation mounts with each coming year. People purchase ornaments not only for themselves but also as gifts for friends, business associates and family.

Even Ward gets caught up in the excitement. “Each year I say to myself ‘this is going to be the best one.’” And when the pieces arrive Faith couldn’t be happier. “It’s like getting an early gift every year when I see something I created come to life.”