The Colgate Scene
September 2007

Alumni Corporation Board
Rising expectations

As I assume the presidency of the Alumni Corporation Board of Directors from JoAnne Spigner '76, let me reflect on our goals and ambitions for the next two years.

A year ago, we began a strategic planning process aimed at effectively nourishing the relationship between Colgate and its alumni and contributing meaningfully to the university's growing success. Given that more than 15 years had passed since the last strategic review, it was the right time to reflect on our mission, vision, and organizational model.

This September, we will conclude this process and come to consensus on what we do well and what we must change. We will convey those outcomes to all alumni this fall.

Throughout our deliberations, we have been motivated by four primary goals:

  • We must become better at enhancing lifelong connectedness among alumni.
  • We must improve communication about our board and about Colgate.
  • We must engage far more volunteers in the business of the board.
  • Our work must be active, not passive; characterized by actions, not reports.

In developing our draft mission statement, we have identified several measurable success factors, which we will review and discuss this month:

  • Commitment to inclusiveness
  • Transparency in process
  • Ongoing dialogue
  • Timely responsiveness
  • Continuous improvement

Some may change; many, I believe, will be ratified. The point is that we can, and must, hold ourselves accountable as an active organization with responsibilities to our diverse and multi-faceted alumni body.

On many levels, our alumni programs are the envy of many peers. Considering the size of our alumni body, Colgate sponsors more regional alumni club events than virtually any other liberal arts institution in America. Reunion and its Reunion College generally attract 1,800 to 2,000 participants yearly. The January "Real World" program connects more than 100 alumni with upwards of 400 seniors getting ready for their transition after graduation. And our alumni board is larger and more engaged than those at all but a small fraction of our peers.

But these accomplishments are still not enough. As a board, we must attend to:

  • The engagement of more alumni and alumnae in board activities, bringing new perspectives as well as broader skills and life experiences to our planning and execution.
  • A far better nexus of connectedness among Colgate volunteers at many levels.
  • Significantly improved communications about the alumni board, who we are, and what we do.
  • A stronger commitment to action outcomes.

The palpable momentum happening at the university makes this an exciting time to be a volunteer. As a professional at another liberal arts college, I hear the buzz about how far Colgate has advanced its quality and reputation in the past two decades, and especially most recently.

I know I speak for my fellow alumni board members in saying that we want to be even more effective contributors to lifelong connectedness among alumni, and to expand the depth and breadth of telling the Colgate story — not just to our family of alumni, parents, and others; but also to the world at large.

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