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Alumni Spotlight: Terry Beurer ’80 Takes on Statewide Leadership Role in Michigan

By Doug Goodnough

Terry Beurer ’80

Terry Beurer ’80 considers himself to be a people person. As someone who supervises staff in Michigan’s 83 counties, drives approximately 4,000 miles per month and has to be able to respond at a moment’s notice, he has to be.

Beurer, who was named the director of Field Operations for the Michigan Department of Human Services in January, said he is ready for the new challenge his promotion offers.

“In my job, it’s something new every day,” said Beurer, who served as acting director for six months before being named permanent director. “I am heavily involved in labor relations and personnel issues (as well as) the day-to-day operations of the county offices to make sure we are pushing forward the mission and the vision of the department.”

Beurer has been working for the state since 1978, when he started at the Adrian Training School. He then went on to the Lenawee County DHS as a child protective services worker, and later supervised CPS and foster care. In 2004 he was promoted to the Monroe County director’s position, and has also served as director of Urban Child Welfare Field Operations and the deputy director of the Children’s Services Administration.

Since the promotion, he said he is wasting very little time implementing new initiatives for his department.

“We are moving very quickly,” he said. “We are in the process of developing and introducing a new business model. We want to get our workers in the field. Wherever the client populations are, we want to be there.”

That includes being online.

“Siena prepared me very well . . . Siena has been very influential in my life. The spirit of what the Adrian Dominicans represent, I try to live each day.” – Terry Beurer

“(Areas like) Medicaid, daycare, cash assistance can all be applied for online, and we are strongly encouraging that,” Beurer said. “We are rolling out electronic data management. We are converting everything electronically, which will help us all over. Our clientele, they are a mobile population.”

Although he wants to improve electronic accessibility, he still believes in face-to-face interaction with his county directors.

“I need to be responsive to what their needs are,” he said. “I need to be supportive of them, and sometimes that involves face-to-face contact. I try to get out as much as I can. I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fact that I worked in the field at one time.”

Beurer said his career in human services started “by accident.” A business major at Siena Heights, he hired in part-time at the Adrian Training School while still a student and “fell in love with the work.” He took additional classes in Human Services before graduating, and said his Siena Heights education still helps him to this day.

“Siena prepared me very well,” said Beurer, who lives near the Adrian campus in Deerfield, Mich. “Siena Heights has been very influential in my life. The spirit of what the Adrian Dominicans represent, I try to live each day.”

He said he has worked with interns and faculty from Siena Heights over the years, and has noticed a common thread.

“They just bring with them a work ethic,” he said. “But they also bring a compassion for people. You see that throughout the whole university atmosphere. You just can’t help but notice.”

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