Christopher Fourman ’09 M’11 has found his niche in a lot of places in the Wagner College community.
Now, as the newly named director of alumni relations, he wants to help his fellow alumni find their niche with the College, too.
Monday was Chris’s first day in his new job at Reynolds House. But he’s far from being a stranger here.
He made the leap from his hometown of Greenville, Ohio, a burg of about 13,000 souls near the Indiana border, to the Big Apple in 2005.
In his senior year of high school, he was all set to attend Ohio’s Bowling Green State University until then-assistant Wagner golf coach Dan Waeger M’06 contacted him. Burned out on competitive golf, Chris had been ready to put it behind him. But the possibility of playing at a small Division 1 school and of living and studying in New York City changed his mind.
It wasn’t easy being a part of the golf team during that time — Waeger was fighting a losing battle with cancer while he continued to coach. He died in March 2009, Chris’s senior year.
“He continued to persevere, and I have some really great memories with him,” says Chris.
Chris pursued a major in business administration focused on finance — he calls himself a “numbers guy.” His Wagner MBA is in finance as well. But a Wall Street internship revealed to this small-town Midwesterner, who grew up helping to run his family’s decades-old appliance and furniture business, that finance at that level was not what he wanted for his career. (Not to mention that his first day of work was the day that Bear Stearns tanked in 2008.)
After finishing his undergraduate degree, Chris stepped into Waeger’s shoes and became the graduate assistant for golf. Soon afterward, he also took on the job of co-resident director of Harborview Hall for a semester. As a student, he had served as a resident assistant and discovered how much he enjoyed helping first-year students with the transition into college. As resident director, he learned even more about managing people and building relationships.
He continued coaching, being named head coach in 2011, while also moving on from resident director to becoming an admissions counselor and then the assistant athletic director for academics and compliance.
“These roles have given Chris extensive insight into the academic and athletic programs at Wagner and the opportunity to connect with students, alumni, and friends of the College, all of which will serve him well in his new role,” says his new boss, Patrick Minson, Wagner’s chief development officer.
Chris will remain head golf coach while also serving as alumni director. His passion for the program is obvious; it earned him the recognition of NEC Golf Coach of the Year in 2011, when the women’s team finished fifth at the NEC Championship.
“When I graduated from the MBA program, I really wanted to stay and finish what I had started [with the golf team],” Chris says. “Because we had gone from a team that was dead last in the country. We were getting beat by everybody. But we started recruiting, and we were getting better and better. And when you look at where the program is now, I’m really happy I’ve had the opportunity to stick around during my other jobs at Wagner and continue to work with the golf teams.”
“With anyone else, I would wonder if it would be possible to perform both of these roles,” says Angelo Araimo, vice president for enrollment and institutional advancement, for whom Chris has worked in several of his roles at Wagner. “But since I’ve already seen him do it, I know he will do it very well.”
Chris says that his work in athletics and in residential education helped him find his career niche in higher education. And now, this work and the improvements he has brought about in those areas also motivate him to work with alumni.
“I’ve put so much effort into reinvigorating what I found important in my Wagner experience,” Chris says. “I was not happy with the experience that I had with the golf team. I loved my coaches, but we needed more resources, and we needed to play on better courses. We just needed to do a little bit more. So I put a lot of effort into improving my program.
“Among our 24,000 alumni, I know that everybody has their ‘golf team.’ Everybody has an aspect of their Wagner education that they really care about and could put something back into, whether it’s two hours a year, or a career, like I did.
“This place is constantly growing and evolving. But it doesn’t grow and evolve without people who drive and propel that evolution. I’m interested in tapping into alumni who have their golf team, or their choir, or their residence life experience that they really care about as I do my experiences at Wagner and they want to help the college evolve in those areas.”