Leading Alumni with Gusto

Dr. Frank Ingraham has worn many hats in his life.

Dr. Frank Ingraham
Dr. Frank Ingraham

During a 44-year career with the DuPont Company, he worked in labor relations, human resources, Six Sigma/Lean project management, training and development, and community relations. Post-DuPont, he’s been a teacher and author. And in private life, he’s a husband, father and doting grandfather.

But perhaps no job he has taken on is as tailor-made for his talents and considerable enthusiasm as his latest: president of the Wilmington University Alumni Association. The office, in which he succeeds Brian Adair, combines two things Ingraham loves: volunteering and WilmU.

He brings a solid Wildcat pedigree to the post. An adjunct professor at the University for the past four years, he holds two WilmU degrees– a master’s in Human Resources (1998) and an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership (2017).

He joined the Alumni Association as soon as he enrolled in the master’s program, and he and his wife, Johna-Lee, who is also an alum (Nursing, 1995), have been regulars at association events ever since.

“I’ve been so very fortunate to grow and develop over the years with the help of Wilmington University,” says Dr. Ingraham. “I’m convinced that I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the University. It’s been an excellent experience for me.”

As an adjunct, he brings to his Strategy in Organizations (MGT 7800) classes his extensive DuPont experience along with the same gusto he applies to all aspects of his life. “I get to teach course content by weaving in lots of corporate experiences while at the same time learning from each of (my students),” he says. Then, characteristically, he adds: “How lucky are we!”

Dr. Ingraham describes alumni events as family-friendly and “robust,” citing as examples tours of the Battleship New Jersey and museum in Camden, New Jersey, and the Nemours Mansion and Garden in North Wilmington. Among the events he was looking forward to at this writing were “Vikings: Beyond the Legend,” an exhibit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, as well as the annual Scholarship Golf Classic this May.
He encourages alumni to check on future events at the association’s website, wilmu.edu/alumni.

The Alumni Association was founded with the first graduating class of 198 students in 1972 to strengthen and promote the growth of the University. Chapter chairs lead their groups in alumni development and university engagement while coordinating special events and collaborating with the Alumni Relations Department for fundraising activities.
“In spite of its growth to over 50,000, the association still upholds its mission to value and care for our alumni as friends and partners by positively impacting our respective communities,”
Dr. Ingraham says.

His desire to “give back” has led him to volunteer with several other organizations and professional groups, including the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and the Delaware Center for Justice. And he seems to have made a positive impression wherever he has served.

Joanne Lee, vice president of Human Resources at N.K.S. Distributors, in New Castle, Delaware, is on the SHRM State Council. “Last year,” she says, “the director of the Council resigned unexpectedly. The first leader that came to mind to rescue the Council was Frank. His passion and commitment to HR and for SHRM is endless. As the interim leader, he navigated the team through turbulent waters and put the Council back on track.”

Lee calls it an “honor and privilege to call Frank a colleague and friend.”

“He inspires and encourages everyone around him,” she says. “He shows that he cares for anyone that is lucky enough to get to know him or work with him or learn from him. I can truly say that I am a much better person for knowing him.”

Susan Post, field services director with the SHRM, echoes those sentiments, and adds: “The Alumni Association is fortunate to have Frank serve as your president and I know you will value and appreciate his continued service — as we do at SHRM.”

Dr. Ingraham believes ginning up enthusiasm for the group’s activities will be a relatively easy task. “I think 99.9 percent of our alums have had a great Wilmington University experience,” he says. “And my message is, ‘if you thought that was great, you’re going to love the Alumni Association.’”

—Bob Yearick