The Colgate Scene
May 2008

Alumni council news

I am writing this after returning from my second consecutive weekend on campus, participating first in a trustee meeting; followed by presiding over the spring meeting of the Alumni Council.

Arriving at Colgate is always an exhilarating experience, one part nostalgia and one part the great anticipation of meeting members of the student body. There is also the great mystery of weather in Hamilton at this time of year; alas, there was no snow on the ground, but still brisk early morning temperatures.

Our Alumni Council is eagerly focusing on ways to better connect alumni to the university and each other. Some of these ways are traditional: area alumni clubs, reunion, and alumni trips (like the one hosted recently by one of Colgate's teaching legends, Tony Aveni, who shepherded alumni to Mexico and Mayan ruins). Some are new and include the new alumni website (; video streaming of campus events, including sports events; and growing use of blogs. Social networking seems to be consuming today's American culture. Colgate students and alumni perfected our own brand of social networking decades ago!

As the Alumni Council addresses the challenges of fostering connectedness among Colgate's 31,000 living alumni, my colleagues and I know that we have to unleash our imaginations. Today's alumni are more diverse, more geographically dispersed, and busier in their personal lives than ever before. While our differences abound and must be celebrated, there is that unique Colgate bond that is common to each of us. Our council, and our progressive alumni program, led by RuthAnn Loveless MA'72, are intensely committed to nurturing lifelong connectedness and better telling Colgate's story as our contributions to Colgate's ambitious strategic plan.

Each council meeting allocates a portion of time to meaningful interaction with undergraduates. Our spring meeting started with a career networking "tunk" with interested first-years, sophomores, and juniors. In another session, students spoke about their experiences in Washington, D.C., connecting with non-governmental organizations (thanks to council member Dr. Jim Smith '70) during spring break. How, we are asking ourselves, can we expand those spring break career explorations to other students and other cities? Later, we interacted with another set of impressive undergraduates who are leaders of Colgate's many faith communities. Religious life is blossoming at Colgate and reflects the world at large. At every encounter with students, we are impressed with their intelligence, their passion, and their poise. They will make stunning alumni.

Nonprofit councils like ours require structure, by-laws, strategic planning, and the setting of priorities. We attend to these tasks and disciplines like any other volunteer organization.

But traveling to Hamilton from Los Angeles or Dallas or Cleveland or Boston or even London (to name the locations of just some of our members) is not motivated strongly by our love of meetings. Rather, it comes from our individual ambitions to give solid advice, to convey what we hear in praise or in constructive criticism of Colgate, to continuously improve the relationships that connect us to Colgate and each other, and to nurture in those undergraduates the passion we feel for alma mater.

For about 60 intense hours three times a year, we come to campus intent on making a measurable difference. Each visit is but a small payback for how Colgate has inspired our own habits of mind, our personal self-confidence, and our lives as productive men and women.

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