Tammy Cavarretta

(Photos by Christi Mathis)

October 05, 2011

Ten questions with ... Tammy Cavarretta

Job on campus/department you work in:  Associate director for institutional advancement/director of development for the College of Business


How long at SIUC:  Since graduation.  I wanted to stay in Carbondale when I graduated from SIU and needed a graduate assistantship to get my MBA.  I applied for a GA position at New Student Admission Services and instead was hired as a full-time field representative recruiting students to SIU.  I was there 14 years.  After working there five years, I went back to get my MBA.  A year later, I was selected for the University Women’s Professional Association administrative internship.  I did my internship with the SIU Foundation at a time when they were creating the vice chancellor and director of development positions.  Four years later, I was hired by the College of Business as the director of development.


Hometown:  I don’t feel like I have a hometown since I moved from Riverside, Calif.; Grand Forks, N.D.; Dover, Del.,; Genoa, Ill.; Travis, Calif.; and Carbondale.  I was an Air Force brat so as Jimmy Buffett would say, “I have nomad feet and some wandering toes…”  That is what makes my job perfect for me.  I get to travel for my job to great places across the U.S. to visit with alumni and friends and then come back to Carbondale.  I always said that one of the best places to live in the Midwest is Carbondale -- nice people, great geography, a mild climate with all four seasons, and SIU, which provides world-class speakers and entertainment.


When you were a youngster, what did you want to be when you grew up?  A park ranger because the best kind of day is one spent outside.  Instead, I learned to feed my love for outdoor adventure as a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.  I owned a horse, had a motorcycle, water and snow skied, was certified as a scuba diver, fished in Canada, camped and learned to sail at Crab Orchard Lake.


People don’t know that you … Had a registered quarter horse named Bert’s Bit.  I once rode him about 10 miles to a horse show and got a third-place ribbon.  I had the whole outfit -- cowboy hat, shirt, buckle and boots.


If you could choose another profession, what would it be and why?  I would not change a thing.  I know that sounds corny but I love what I do -- raising funds for worthwhile causes including: scholarships to help students afford a college education, better facilities for learning or professors to recruit and retain good teachers/researchers.  Someday, I would like to raise funds for other organizations that also have causes that are near and dear to me.


What is something you still want to accomplish in life?  Help an organization apply fact-based solutions to the world’s most challenging problems.


What was the first “album” you ever bought, and was it an LP, 8-track or CD?  Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” LP.  My parents would have me sing the song for their friends.  I had white fishnets and go-go boots to match.


What is your favorite food and why?  Lobster.  I lived on two coasts when I was growing up (California and Delaware) and became fond of lobster at a very young age.


Who has inspired you, and how?  My mother.  She was an adventurer and a tough bird.  She had a private pilot’s license, played bridge with convicts at a penitentiary, fixed clocks, volunteered for crisis lines and was well travelled.  She gave me a great deal of independence growing up.


What is your pet peeve?  Generalizations.  I like details.


What would you like your gravestone to say about you?  She spread good will to others.