New vice president looks forward to making connections
When Amber Countis joins the University of Houston-Victoria in October, she is looking forward to learning about and immersing herself in the university community in order to promote higher education.
“I believe in the power of higher education and the important impact that it can have on people’s lives,” Countis said. “I’ve seen its impact on my own life, and I want to find ways to support those who want to earn a degree, whether that’s by securing donations for scholarships, applying for grants to fund programs or even just being part of a community that values education.”
Countis will join UHV University Advancement on Oct. 17 as the new vice president for advancement and external relations. She is coming to UHV from Texas A&M University-Commerce, where she served most recently as associate vice president of philanthropy and engagement. She previously served in advancement and alumni relations roles at Norwich University in Vermont, Tufts University in Massachusetts and Loyola University in New Orleans.
“Amber Countis is an excellent leader who will bring a new excitement to UHV and the university’s advancement team,” UHV President Bob Glenn said. “I am looking forward to seeing how she will forge new connections and reach community leaders to share the good news about UHV.”
Countis sees the job of university advancement as something akin to philanthropic matchmaking. Much like a matchmaker would find a couple with similar interests and goals, the advancement team forges connections between the university and community leaders and alumni who believe in the work the university is doing. Those relationships form the bedrock of a strong support system that helps the university accomplish its goals for itself and its students.
Once she comes to UHV, Countis plans to begin by discovering what is special and unique about the university and the communities it serves. She plans to embark on a “listening tour” to get to know different parts of the university and its funding priorities as well as become more familiar with UHV’s goals and strategic plan.
“I want to be able to take UHV’s story to the community and make connections with others who may not be aware of the work UHV does to support its students,” she said. “Advancement is all about building relationships, making connections, and showing individuals and organizations how they can invest in our students through higher education. I want to help find more individuals, organizations and leaders who believe in and will advocate for the great work UHV is doing.”
In addition, she plans to reach out to and build relationships with the university’s alumni. Students are a university’s main purpose, and alumni are essential resources that show how important higher education is for current students, she said.
“I want UHV’s alumni to have a lifelong relationship with the university,” Countis said. “Their time as students may have only lasted two to four years, but the benefits of earning their degrees and their contributions to the Jaguar network will last a lifetime. It’s important to have that connection established so the students who benefitted from UHV can eventually turn around and help others who come after them by supporting the university.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.