Director of Alumni Relations & Special
Putting together the perfect College of Science event — whether it's an awards ceremony, an alumni reception or a dinner with the dean — is like creating art for Janelle Musch.
As the college's director of alumni relations and special events, Musch makes sure that each event's details are carefully prepared, even down to the taste of the food and the smells in the air. The goal when planning events, Musch says, is to ensure that every attendee leaves with a lasting impression of their great experience.
What are some typical events you plan for the College of Science?
Each year, the college holds about 40 events. That number represents a pretty wide variety — for example, we have annual events for the winners of our Outstanding Alumni Awards and our Distinguished Alumni Awards. Our events also include gatherings for alumni, and I coordinate dinners with Dean Jeff Roberts and alumni or potential donors. Those dinners are held here at Purdue, across the country and sometimes even internationally while he's traveling.
Some events, like the dinners, are very small, with only 12 to 15 people in attendance. Others, like our annual award receptions and ceremonies, involve 150 attendees or more. Each event is unique — I always keep that in mind while planning.
How do you go about planning individual events?
For me, navigating the logistical hurdles of planning any event is the most fun. I love overcoming the inherent challenges of event planning — finding the best location, planning the menu if necessary, arranging for entertainment and other technical concerns. My goal is always to make an event fun and engaging and to get across the college's message in the clearest, most memorable and most enjoyable way.
I really see event planning as an art, with each event as an individual work that must have exactly the right details, including every smell, taste, texture and sound. Getting those details right is an important part of ensuring that our events' attendees make positive connections with the college and with Purdue. We want to leave people with great memories and a lasting experience.
How did you develop your passion for event planning?
Right after receiving my bachelor's degree in individual and family studies from Purdue, I landed a job as a drug and alcohol prevention coordinator, a position that was funded through a grant the College of Agriculture's administration managed. Part of that job was planning a biannual conference, and through that work I realized how much I love event planning. When the grant money for that job ran out, I took a job in Purdue's University Development Office as an event planner. Four years ago, I took the job I have now.
What is the best aspect of your job?
It's making a personal impact on the people who attend our events. For example, just this semester, during Homecoming we had a small thank-you event for donors. At that event, while a singer sang a song about gratitude, some of the college's students held up signs that said things such as, "thank you for making my dreams come true," and "thank you for funding my education."
Some of the donors that day were moved to tears because, at that moment, what they were doing for the college became very real. To be part of planning such a powerful moment — to be able to move someone that much — is an amazing thing to me. It's one of the main reasons I do what I do.