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Waving Goodbye from the Series Stage

Cynthia McGurren ’83 Retires After 32 Years at Salem State

A Life's Work at Salem State

Cynthia’s long career at Salem State University began as a student employee in the public relations department, where she helped plan the first year of the Series. After graduating as a nontraditional transfer student, she went on to become the director of public relations, special assistant to the president, director of college relations, and acting vice president of Institutional Advancement. For the last 14 years, she held the dual roles of vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the Salem State University Foundation.

Cynthia was a key visionary of the 10,000 Reasons campaign, which raised over $26.5 million for Salem State. She led the growth of the Salem State Foundation endowment from $5 million to $30 million and the university’s endowed scholarships by 557 percent. A powerhouse of fundraising, she also personally raised nearly $26 million in spendable and endowment funds for the university over her 14-year tenure as chief fundraiser.

Her Name on the Wall

In celebration of Cynthia’s dedication to Salem State, colleagues and friends raised over $250,000 for the university’s unrestricted endowment in her name. A conference room in the Sophia Gordon Center for the Creative and Performing Arts was named in her honor.

In September, just steps away from the newly dedicated Cynthia McGurren ‘83 Conference Room, Series speaker Rebecca Eaton took the stage. The Emmy-winning television producer for PBS is behind the successful relaunch of MASTERPIECE and recent hits including “Victoria,” “Sherlock,” “Poldark” and “Downton Abbey”—the most-watched drama in PBS history. She was the most recent in a long line of big-name speakers at the popular lecture event, in which Cynthia played a central role in growing and promoting throughout her career. Today, the Series draws thousands of patrons each year.

“Cynthia’s incredible achievements have changed the face of campus,” said Salem State President John Keenan to the crowd of friends, colleagues and family at Cynthia’s retirement party in March. “She has helped students achieve their dreams and brought widespread notoriety to our university. She is the embodiment of Viking pride, and has wielded her talent, energy and passion to inspire others to invest in this university and our students.”

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