Clifford named 11th chief executive of the Penn State Alumni Association

November 10, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Paul J. Clifford has been named chief executive officer of the Penn State Alumni Association and associate vice president for alumni relations for the University. He is the alumni association’s 11th chief executive in its 145-year history.

A Pennsylvania native, Clifford comes to Penn State from the University of Oregon, where he has served as associate vice president of advancement and executive director of the University of Oregon Alumni Association. He will begin his Penn State service on Jan. 11.

“Paul Clifford is recognized as one of the most innovative, energetic and knowledgeable alumni advancement professionals in the country today,” said Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Rodney P. Kirsch, who led the national search. “He has the right skill set, personality and vision to lead the Alumni Association into its next chapter of service to alumni and alma mater.

“Penn State may well graduate more than 150,000 alumni in the next decade,” Kirsch continued. “Paul’s proven ability to uphold tradition while engaging current students and our young alumni with the University will be invaluable as we think to our future and all of the opportunities that await this next generation of Penn State leaders.”

While at Oregon, Clifford directed all programs, events, communications and services for the University’s 190,000 alumni and led a team of 40 professionals across four locations. He was responsible for increasing membership by more than 8 percent; implementing an alumni scholars program; and leading the University’s Philanthropic Relationships and Engagement Team, an innovative model that cross-functionally integrates traditional alumni relations, annual giving, and other engagement strategies.

“It’s an important time in the life of our alumni association, and we couldn’t be more excited about the dynamic leadership style Paul brings with him to Penn State,” said Alumni Association President Kevin R. Steele. “On behalf of our executive board and Alumni Council, our membership, and alumni everywhere, I want to welcome Paul to the Penn State community and our alumni association family.”

Clifford will serve on Kirsch’s senior leadership team and, in his association management capacity, will report to Steele, the volunteer president of the alumni association. He will guide the University’s alumni relations strategy; oversee engagement initiatives with the alumni association’s 177,000-plus members and 315 affiliate groups; lead a 70-member staff; and manage the organization’s broad range of programs, benefits, services and resources including a $12.5 million annual operating budget.   

 “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Penn State Alumni Association and serve the most loyal alumni base in the world,” Clifford said. “I am overwhelmed with delight and excitement to be coming home to serve a University that my family cares for deeply. It is the realization of my greatest professional dream to have been chosen for this important role, at this critical moment at a premier public institution.”

Clifford has spent his entire career in the alumni relations field and has broad national experience. A 12-time CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) Award winner, Clifford has served on or chaired myriad CASE committees and is a five-time faculty member for the organization’s Summer Institute for Alumni Relations. 

Clifford earned his bachelor of arts degree in history from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1996. Prior to his service at the University of Oregon, he was associate vice chancellor for alumni relations at East Carolina University and the president and CEO of the East Carolina Alumni Association—positions he held from 2004–14. Previously, he was director of alumni outreach at the University of Connecticut Alumni Association, director of alumni affairs at SUNY New Paltz, and assistant director for alumni communications and student programs at James Madison University. 

A native of Conyngham, Pennsylvania, Clifford and his wife, Jenne, have three children: Aidan, Avery and Abbey.

About the Alumni Association

Established in 1870, the Penn State Alumni Association serves more than 177,000 members and 645,000 alumni worldwide. Its mission is to connect alumni to the University and to each other; provide valued services to members; and support the University’s mission of teaching, research and service. For more information about the Penn State Alumni Association, visit

  • Paul Clifford photo

    Paul J. Clifford has been named chief executive officer of the Penn State Alumni Association and associate vice president for alumni relations for the University. He is the Alumni Association’s 11th chief executive in its 145-year history.

    IMAGE: Photo courtesy Paul Clifford

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 10, 2015