Corie Pauling, ’93, began her tenure as president and CEO of the Alumni Association on Oct. 19. We sat down with Pauling to find out what drew her back to her alma mater, how she plans to connect with alums around the world, and how running helps her focus.
Q: You spent 16 years at TIAA, including the last four years as senior vice president, chief inclusion and diversity officer, and head of corporate social responsibility. What drew you to the Alumni Association?
Corie Pauling: The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan drew me home to do what I love, and it’s a great place and space to be. I see inclusion, diversity, equity, and purpose strategies as catapulting the Alumni Association’s global reach and impact. This is a meaningful variation of the work I did with my great team and colleagues at TIAA, and it’s at the heart of how we’ll deepen our connection with U-M alumni. As an alum and native Detroiter, I’m professionally and personally invested in this work and our growth. That’s how I’m wired, and that’s what I’m known for: creating space and making an outside-the-box impact through deep, meaningful, and authentic connections. Our message to all alums is simply: come home.
Q: There are more than 650,000 alumni and 114 clubs worldwide. How do you plan to get to know some of them?
Pauling: The short answer: high-energy, purposeful, and authentic engagement. As a start, we’re working now on a club tour with a kickoff in early December. At each stop, working with local clubs, I’ll host a 5K run/walk and a community service event. We’ll connect through real dialogue about what alumni need and how best to serve. The point is to listen, learn, and strategize, emphasizing care for alumni as professionals, yes, but also in support of their wellness, families, and communities. Alumni will know that U-M will always be home, and the Alumni Association beckons them there.
Q: You mentioned wellness events. You are a runner and have completed 15 marathons, including the famous Boston Marathon. Why are wellness and running so important to you?
Pauling: I think we’re all on a journey, learning, and growing. Running found me at 40 years old and opened my world to achievements I never thought possible. It has helped me embrace that, truly, there’s nothing that can’t be done with the right spirit and preparation. Aside from physical wellness, I thrive in that space for creativity, outlook, energy, and influence. And it’s been truly amazing to share that light with others. One of my former team’s hallmark achievements through our “Be the Change” platform at TIAA was the launch and growth of our Race Against Isms event where, through wellness, dialogue, and connection, thousands have now reflected on the ‘isms’ that hold us all back, and we made meaningful commitments to allyship and service. The idea to build that “Be the Change” platform came from an exhilarating run!
Q: Earlier, you talked about coming home. What is the spirit of that message for alumni?
Pauling: The simple message — Come Home — taps into that unparalleled space during your U-M years that felt like home. Those unique U-M life moments where you grew, you laughed, you explored, where you dreamt your dreams, where you took your shot. We made it through — we learned, persevered, and enjoyed some amazing times and connections. I believe that U-M was an important part of that path forward for us all, even while recognizing that we had different experiences that were not perfect, but that’s what home is too. The reality is that we’re all still on that journey right now, and our message and energy will show you that the Alumni Association will be with you. We have a Big House for sure, and you’re welcome to come home. We want our alums to smile on U-M in that way — and to come back and give back.
Q: Finally, we couldn’t help but notice the picture of you on the field of Michigan Stadium after U-M beat Ohio State last year. What is your prediction for this year’s game versus Ohio State?
Pauling: We are Michigan. We will win. That’s what we do.