Susan Crowley, UF community relations leader, to retire
After more than 17 years connecting the University of Florida with the broader community in Gainesville and around the state, UF Assistant Vice President for Community Relations Susan Crowley is retiring in January 2024.
Crowley is most well-known for organizing the university’s Eye Opener Discovery Breakfasts, which connect the Gainesville community to various university speakers, as well as Gators Volunteer, a digital hub that helps UF students, faculty and staff find volunteer opportunities. She has served as the university’s long-time liaison with local chambers of commerce and governments and heads the UF Campaign for Charities, which consistently raises a million dollars annually for organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Northeast Florida, Florida Wildlife Care, and the Lupus Foundation of America.
Crowley considers her greatest accomplishment to be the relationship she helped foster between the university and Gainesville.
“Because of the work UF has done through the years, the university now has a closer relationship to the community than it did 20 years ago,” Crowley said.
Prior to her time at UF, Crowley worked for the Alachua County Medical Society for nearly 11 years. She then started at UF in a position in the University Relations Office that had never existed before — assistant vice president of community relations.
"Susan has been a force for good in strengthening the important connection between the university and the community. Her impact is impossible to measure but demonstrated in the countless stories of her ability to unite people and make things happen,” said Mark Kaplan, vice president of government and community relations. “Susan's dedication over the last 17 years to UF and the community will leave a lasting legacy. Working with her for five years has been an honor, and I am excited for what’s to come for her in retirement."
One of Crowley’s most meaningful projects was staffing the racial inequity study of Alachua County that was sponsored by UF, UF Health, Santa Fe College, the Greater Gainesville Chamber, Alachua County Public Schools, the city and the county. This study helped focus attention on local poverty, educational issues, and health needs.
Crowley recalled one her favorite memories in her role that involved a UF graduate who was working for Teach for America in Harlem. He raised money to have his middle school class of students come to UF — most of them had never left Harlem before. Crowley and her office hosted the group for three days of touring UF and learning about the college experience.
“They held alligators. They put on scrubs and were taught about surgery. Tim Tebow welcomed them via video and provided them with Gatorade shirts. President-at-the-time Bernie Machen hosted them for lunch,” Crowley said. “It was an incredible experience.”
Crowley said what she will miss most about UF is the people.
“My colleagues and I worked through issues together, laughed, played, and fought battles together. They are wonderful people,” she said.
Crowley said she will also miss the daily opportunity to impact the community she loves. What she is looking forward to most is spending more time with her grandchildren.
“I really enjoyed my time at UF — as a student and as a staff member,” she said. “Two of my children, my sisters and my father also attended UF. We are all Gators through and through. It has meant a lot to me to be able to work here and work alongside my colleagues.”