Craig Rivers: Man of Many Talents
We interviewed Director of Admissions Craig Rivers to learn more about him and gain his insight on what many would consider the most demanding job on our campus. With his high energy level and can-do attitude, Craig has proven himself a leader among leaders.
You’ve been here for awhile now. What have been your greatest challenges and rewards in directing the Admissions department?
Let’s start with the rewards. I would say the greatest reward is seeing students who don’t think they can get into college/university who do and make it. Seeing them in the halls with books in hand heading to class, speaking with them about assignments, and the grades they achieved. It makes what I do that much more important and that much more rewarding.
Now some of the challenges that I have are students who really want to go school who can’t. Whether it’s financial or transportation issues, or even worse, those students who didn’t complete high school. Those are the ones that hurt, because the students really want to make some positive changes in their lives.
Where are you from originally, and what brought you to Houston?
Originally I’m from Florida (Palm Beach), but grew up all up and down the east coast. Lived in all the following states: Florida, Alabama, South and North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Arizona and now Texas.
The reason we moved to Houston is while living in Arizona, my wife became ill and one of the best hospitals in the nation is located here. She lived in Texas as a teen when her dad was stationed at Fort Hood. We researched the economy and Houston was near the top. After that it was a no brainer. Been here for about three years now and we love it.
If I recall, you had quite a varied career before coming to AIU. Tell us about that.
After I received my Bachelor's degree, I worked in several different areas trying to find what I really wanted to do. The first was as regional accounts manager for Canada Dry Beverages for the Fort Lauderdale area. I did that for about three years, but driving all day in Florida traffic wasn’t a great thing. Then I worked in retail for about 12 years. Wal-Mart stores, everything from Overnight Assistant Manager to Department Training to Department Assistant Manager. I started in Boynton Beach, Florida and was transferred to Pennsylvania and Connecticut on what is called the Super Center Squad. (Management team in charge of new store openings.) After eight years of Wal-Mart, I took a position as store manager for CVS and Walgreens Pharmacy for four years until I decided to go back to school for my MBA.
While working on my MBA, I was approached by a classmate who at that time was one of the Directors of Admissions for another college to come work for her. Spent over two years there and actually took over her position when she was promoted to Regional Director of Admissions. I operated campuses in Tampa and Phoenix before taking a short break to take care of the family while my wife recovered. I love being in higher education, and after moving to Houston applied to AIU and the rest is history.
What do you see as the ultimate contribution of the DOA (Director of Admissions) at a university like ours? I mean, bottom line, what would you like to be known for?
What I want to be known for is someone who made a difference. To have a positive difference in someone’s life. One that makes them a better person or betters their current or long term situation. A degree can change a student’s life, but I’m talking about the people that work for me. I have worked for some great men and women before. They not only mentored me on work/career knowledge but also life knowledge. That’s the part I really appreciated and value still today.
I want my employees/team to say “If I had to work for anyone, I want that to be Craig Rivers.” That’s some powerful stuff to take a new employee and guide them to be the best they can be. See them get promoted or take on new roles that fulfill their career ambitions. Success has several different meanings to every-one, so to be remembered for making someone a success in life as well as their career. Then as a Director of Admissions for AIU or wherever I may be, I can sleep pretty well at night knowing that I made a difference.
Anything else you would like to mention about yourself? (Family, hobbies, interests, etc.)
Family: I have 3 kids (two girls and a boy), and I have been married to my college sweetheart for over 12 years now. My hobbies include working in my yard on the weekends. Love being outside when it’s not too hot, making things look good. My favorite hobby is watching football, (go Indianapolis Colts and Notre Dame!) basketball, golf, and baseball, anything sports-related.
Interests are pretty much reading books on leadership, business and anything on world history. Hanging out with the family doing whatever the wife planned that day. Other than that I love working and enjoy what I do.
Special thanks to David Drake, Director of Library Services at AIU Houston, for this article.