U of M - The Team Behind the Team: Alumni Engagement

U of M - The Team Behind the Team: Alumni Engagement

Provided by U of M

Oct. 24, 2013

During each week of competition throughout the cross country season, we will highlight a member of our support staff that helps the Wolverines succeed on and off the course!

Meet Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement Jeff Porter:

Jeff is one of two full-time staff members running the newly formed Office of Alumni Engagement, which helps create a home for all U-M alumni and connect current and former student-athletes. He couldn't be more perfect for the position, as he was a standout Michigan student-athlete on the men's track and field team from 2003-07. He won the 2007 NCAA title in the indoor 60-meter hurdles and following his career as a Wolverine, went on to represent the USA at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He met his wife, Tiffany (Ofili) Porter, who was also a standout at Michigan and 2012 Olympian, while competing in track and field at U-M.

Describe your position and your role in supporting current and former student-athletes at Michigan.

My position was created to help foster and solidify relationships with student-athlete alumni once they have left the University of Michigan. My role is to be one of the first points of contact for alums and to keep them informed and involved with Michigan Athletics, regardless of where they are. Our alumni helped build the foundation of Michigan Athletics and we want them to know and feel that this is and will be their home.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The two aspects I enjoy most about my job is the interaction I have with alums across sports and generations. Everyone has stories to tell and experiences to share and our office gives them a sense of connection to Michigan, regardless of whether or not their coach is still at Michigan. The other aspect that I enjoy is learning about the history of Michigan Athletics. There are countless stories of coaches, games, experiences, critical moments in big games and random facts that I learn about every day. For example, did you know that we had a 150 pound football team?

What makes working for Michigan Athletics special?

Michigan Athletics is special place because of the team culture we have in place. There is no question that we work hard to provide our student-athletes with all they need to be successful on and off the field but we like to have fun. Throughout the year, you can count on events and activities that help the team members to relax and share these experiences with friends and family.

What advice would you give current Michigan student-athletes?

The advice I continuously give current student-athletes is to make the best use of your time while on campus and network with as many people as possible. There are people who would love to help student-athletes be successful if the just seek them out. Student-athletes here at Michigan have an abundance of resources and they should try to make use of as many of them as possible.

How has your prospective on the athletic department and the amount of people that support our 900 student-athletes changed now that you're on the other side of the fence?

When I was student-athlete, I thought that football paid for everything and I did not have an understanding of how Michigan Athletics operates to support all student-athletes. Now that I'm on the other side of the fence, it's amazing to learn how Michigan Athletics supports the student-athletes. I now have an understanding of the importance of donors, how funding is allocated and everything that goes into producing games. When I was a student-athlete, I did not have a true understanding of all it takes to provide the best opportunity for our student-athletes.

What is your favorite Michigan memory from your days as a student-athlete?

My favorite memory from my days as a student-athlete was winning the national championship in 2007, but the best part was having most of my teammates carpool from Michigan to Arkansas to support myself and my other teammates who qualified to participate. That was one of the greatest feelings, especially after having been involved in a serious weight accident just months prior.

What do you enjoy doing away from work?

Away from work, I travel quite extensively. My wife is always on the move and when I have an opportunity, I meet up with her in various countries.

What did you major in at Michigan how did you end up in your role at Michigan Athletics?

I majored in sport management & communications in the School of Kinesiology and received my master's degree in higher education with a focus in student affairs. Before accepting this position, I was involved in various aspects of Michigan Athletics. I spent time as a strength coach and assistant academic counselor. Those experiences were invaluable because it kept me in contact with student-athletes and allowed me to continue to relate to them because of shared experiences. Building that kind of rapport is precious in my current role where relationships are everything. I'm a familiar face around campus, which allows alums to call and email and know exactly who they are communicating with.

» Visit the Office of Alumni Engagement for more information.

• Past Entry: Sara Rechnitzer (Men's Cross Country) | Ruquel Atchinson (Women's Cross Country)

Contact: Whitney Dixon