Neal Finishes Term as Alumni Board President

Posted on: December 3, 2013

Diane NealFor more than 30 years, CAS alumna Diane Neal has built an impressive career in all facets of retail, including mass, department stores and specialty that span across multiple product segments, and has served at the helm of major retail companies.

A 1979 graduate of the College of Communication Arts & Sciences with a B.S. in Retailing, Neal also has given back to the college in so many different ways.

Currently, she is finishing up her second term on the CAS Alumni Board and her last year as Alumni Board president.

She has been a member of the Alumni Board for the past six years, having served the past three years as president. Board members can serve up to two three-year terms. Neal's second three-year term will come to an end at the end of December.

"I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Diane for her dedication to MSU and CAS. From her tireless commitment to the Alumni Board, to her campus visits, to her countless donations, she epitomizes what Spartans stand for," said Pamela Whitten, Dean of the College of Communication Arts & Sciences. "Her vision and generosity will continue to benefit our students for many years to come, especially through the Diane Neal Student Excellence endowed scholarship."

By example, Neal has demonstrated how alumni can help open doors for CAS students. One of the many ways she has given back to the college is by creating the Diane Neal Student Excellence endowed scholarship.

"I love mentoring young people, having doors open for them and having opportunities provided for them," Neal said. "I didn't grow up with very much myself and I had so many opportunities open for me because of what I was able to experience here at Michigan State. Because of that, I've set up a scholarship fund here at MSU to really help students.

"The minute you get a letter from a student thanking you for some of the funds received and hear about the impact it makes, you just want to give more because it's just so rewarding to see the fruits of your labor come to fruition."

Another way Neal gives back to the college is by visiting campus to speak to students.

"Your education prepares you for so much, but there's only so much a classroom can prepare you for, and to have someone come talk about their real-life experiences puts things into perspective and helps put the pieces together for students," Neal said. "And to really sit in a classroom and look at these students who are so excited about listening to someone who has actually done these things and also just their excitement about their own futures its energetic on both sides."

Neal has a remarkable array of career experiences to share with students. She served as CEO of Bath & Body Works, based in Columbus, Ohio, from June 2007 to July 2011 and continued to consult the company through fall of 2011. She joined Bath & Body Works in November 2006 as President and COO until being promoted to CEO in 2007.

Prior to joining Bath & Body Works, she served as President of the Outlet Division for Gap Inc., where she was responsible for the outlet business for all three Gap Inc. brands - Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy. Before that, she spent 22 years with Target Corporation in multiple divisions, including Dayton's Department Stores (now Macy's), Mervyn's, Target Sourcing Services and Target stores.

During her 16 years with Target stores, she held multiple positions and responsibilities, including merchandising, planning, distribution and sourcing. She was promoted to President of Mervyn's in 2001 and served in that capacity until 2004, before joining Gap Inc.

"I have been in the value sector of the retail business throughout my career, and while I love that piece of it, it's about bringing great design and great product and making it accessible to anyone of any income level. That to me has been an extremely rewarding part of my career," Neal said.

Neal now lives in San Francisco and is a director on three different company boards including Fossil Inc. and two other privately held companies.

"I would not be where I am today without the solid foundation that I got as a Michigan State grad," Neal said.

In 2008, Neal received the MSU Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award, which is presented each year to alumni who have distinguished themselves by obtaining the highest level of professional accomplishments and who possess the highest standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of Michigan State University.

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