William Kavan

How did you choose your major?
Well, I started out in business, but it wasn’t quite the right fit for me. At the same time I had taken some extracurricular electives classes in history and politics and these resonated with me. I shifted to a political science major, thinking that I would go into law. But, I ultimately went down a different path – one that led me back to ASU. I’m now the director of development for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It’s exciting to be part of the university that is growing and changing higher education as we know it.

What was your favorite class?
Political Statistics. It’s not that I’m a math geek, but statistics made math more concrete, particularly when applied to real world issues like politics. That said – I also enjoyed MUS 347: Jazz in America.

What does ASU mean to you?
I am very passionate about ASU. I’ve made good friends and colleagues. The strong ties I forged at ASU through the Alumni Association, the ASU student government and my fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, have carried on with me throughout my life. Even when I wasn’t actually working here, I volunteered here!

What has your connection to the Greek life meant?
The Greek connection has been of great importance in my life. I came to ASU from a small town in New York, knowing absolutely no one in the state of Arizona. Joining my fraternity helped me grow and learn valuable life skills. I met great people that I am still connected to. And while I only spent three years as an undergraduate member of Delta Kappa Epsilon, I’ve continued to stay involved in the 20 years since I graduated. I’ve met people from other chapters all over the United States and Canada, attended conventions, and served on the internal Board of Directors. It has become my second, my chosen, family.

I’m now one of the alumni advisors for my fraternity. I tell the current undergraduates how important it is to network, to talk to people and get to know what they do, and make them aware of what you are doing. I met one of my first employers at a fraternity convention in 1995. That job started me in the software business with TRG software, which was later bought by PeopleSoft, and then later led me to SunGard Higher Education, where I served as vice president.

Which mentor really impacted your life?
While I had many wonderful mentors at ASU, the person who influenced me most was my fraternity advisor Vicki Hersh, who was ASU’s Greek Life coordinator. As I worked my way up through the fraternity to become chapter president of Delta Kappa Epsilon (and ASU Greek Man of the Year 1992), she provided constant advice and leadership.

How has the Alumni Association impacted your life?
As an ASU student, I was very involved with the Alumni Association early on. I met many of my mentors through the association, like Dr. Christine Wilkinson. It was Don Dotts, then president of Alumni Association, who tried to help me find jobs after I graduated and later got me engaged as a volunteer by nominating me to serve on the University Club’s Board of Directors. With all the benefits that I’ve had and all the connections and friendships that I’ve made, it was only natural that I would continue to be involved. I’ve tried to give back to the university in as many ways as I can, from being past chairman of the board for the ASU Alumni Association and as a trustee for the ASU Foundation, to developing endowments to support the university’s archives and provide scholarships for students in the Greek system.

How did your education in CLAS prepare you for what you are doing today?
It’s funny that you ask, since I’m now the director of development for the college! Getting my degree in the college left me with a strong foundation. I learned how people work together, I learned about politics, and I took classes in subjects I might not have taken, but which have offered experiences and knowledge that I still draw from today.

There is so much going on here in CLAS – from the Virginia Piper Center for Creative Writing to the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Each of our schools, units, centers and institutes are doing amazing things. It’s exciting to see what ASU has built in places that used to be parking lots, and how ASU is impacting students here now, and Arizona, the country and in many respects, the world.

What advice you would give to current CLAS student (and alumni)
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and ASU offer a wide range of opportunities for experience, training and networking. Find out what you care about and invest in it, become a tutor, do research in a lab, or join a fraternity, the ASU Chess Club or the Gammage Ambassadors. There are almost unlimited offerings out there. You just need to get out and meet people. If you can’t find it at ASU, then you haven’t looked hard enough.

What if I wanted to donate?
If you were a prospective donor, I would first find out what interests you. What you are passionate about. What has had an impact on your life in a way that makes you want to try to touch and invest in it? I received a great education here and built a great group of friends and business associations. I created two endowments at ASU because I like to strengthen and do positive things for students coming in, and to give them the ability to attend ASU with a scholarship. I want to assure the success of students, of my university and my community.

People are coming to ASU because we are doing things here that couldn’t be done 20 years ago. We are creating a new model for what a university should be, by becoming more inclusive, more available to a diverse body of students, entrepreneurial and innovative. People want to be part of that vision. It has kept me connected all these years, and this vision is what drives me to invest here, personally and now professionally.