UCSB alumnus George Thurlow will take the job of assistant vice chancellor for alumni affairs and executive director of the UCSB Alumni Association in the wake of Peter Steiner’s retirement, relinquishing his newly acquired position as an ex officio UC Regent.

Thurlow, who is currently the publisher and chief executive officer of the Santa Barbara Independent, will assume his duties June 1. He was recently voted treasurer of the Alumni Associations of the UC, and by virtue of that position would have served as a UC Regent. UC employees, however, are ineligible for positions as Regents.

Chancellor Henry T. Yang formed a committee composed of Thurlow and Dr. Paula Bruice, senior lecturer in the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, as well as a former member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors to name Steiner’s successor.

Thurlow was eventually chosen to fill the position, and will be retiring from his position at the Independent in order to assume his duties.

“I’m leaving not just 12 years at the Independent, but 30 years of journalism,” Thurlow said. “On the one hand it’s hard to leave a great place, institution and paper, but I am excited about going to UCSB. It was a hard decision.”

Yang, in a press release, lauded Thurlow’s past accomplishments and expressed positive anticipation of his future work.

“This campus has long benefited from George’s vision and wisdom, and we look forward to the contributions we know he will make in his new position,” Yang said.

As the new assistant vice chancellor, Thurlow’s duties will vary, however he will initially focus on increasing the campus’s connection to the alumni community.

“The biggest task will be to grow the alumni presence on campus,” Thurlow said. “We have 145,000 alumni, and they are going to play an increasingly important role in the future. One of my jobs will be to connect them back to UCSB, and as an alum I think I’m in a good position to do that.”

Thurlow mentioned his desire to create a UCSB Picnic Day. He said the idea is modeled after UC Davis’s Picnic Day, in which the campus community and alumni meet for activities such as lectures, barbecues and sporting events.

“Our dream is to have more reunions and signature events where alumni come back to campus,” Thurlow said. “Part of my job is to figure how to make those dreams reality. I like Davis’s Picnic Day, we’re looking at that really carefully [and asking] ‘Can we stage this at UCSB?'”

Thurlow will also need to raise funds for the soon-to-be completed Mosher Alumni House, which will serve as a place for alumni to connect with the campus. The house is supported exclusively through private funds.

“We have at least a million dollars to raise to complete construction [of the Mosher House],” Thurlow said. “My second priority is going to be to work on making sure that when it opens it’s financially sound, as it’s essentially a private building.”

Thurlow expressed his overall satisfaction about returning to the UCSB community.

“I think most students understand this – but more after they leave – what a special place [UCSB] is,” Thurlow said. “The opportunity to return is a dream come true.”