The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees endorsed a plan today to align all of UConn’s institutional advancement operations – most notably the addition of responsibility for alumni relations – under the UConn Foundation’s direction.
Today’s action reflects careful evaluation over the past few years about how the University could vastly improve outreach to its more than 230,000 living alumni worldwide. Earlier this month, the board of directors of the Foundation – an independent 501(c)(3) organization – passed a similar measure accepting this new charge.
“No truly great university can fully achieve its potential without a vast, supportive, and engaged alumni body, and with the full spirit of Husky Nation mobilized as one, there are no limits on what the future holds for UConn,” President Susan Herbst said. “I’m grateful to the Foundation and its leadership for taking on this worthwhile responsibility of better connecting – and, in many cases, reconnecting – our alumni with UConn.”
The University previously has coordinated alumni outreach activities through the UConn Alumni Association, also a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity independent of UConn.
The Alumni Association’s operations have been supported by the University – more than $13 million over the past two decades – and by requiring alumni to pay dues to be members of the organization. This dues-based structure has yielded a membership base of approximately 10,000 alumni, which is less than 5 percent of UConn’s total living alumni base.
With the full spirit of Husky Nation mobilized as one, there are no limits on what the future holds for UConn. — President Susan Herbst
Under the new model, the University expects the Foundation to substantially expand alumni outreach, including establishing a newly constituted alumni community that would no longer charge membership dues.
“We’re excited about the potential of this expanded partnership,” Foundation President Joshua R. Newton said. “UConn alumni have worked hard to get to where they are, and staying connected with the University shouldn’t come at a cost. Integrating our outreach efforts without paying for membership means that it will be easier than ever before to show you’re a proud member of the UConn family.”
The University and the Foundation believe that these changes to the alumni engagement structure should be seamless for UConn’s alumni. Those who are connected to the University through one of its alumni chapters, UConn clubs, or the UConn Alumni Association will see no less connectivity with their alma mater. They will still have at least the same access to alumni events, programs, publications, and communications.
In addition, the University is optimistic that the Alumni Association will make the Alumni House available to continue serving as a home on the Storrs campus for all alumni.
“The Alumni Association continues to work alongside the University and the UConn Foundation in transitioning to an alumni relations model that is in the best interest of our alumni, our students, and our alma mater,” said Lori Riiska, president of the UConn Alumni Association. “The Alumni Association is committed to preserving its mission and building closer ties between our University and each of its stakeholders. I believe all alumni leaders and volunteers can rally behind this goal.”
What’s more, by coordinating alumni relations activities with the UConn Foundation, operations will become more streamlined and cost effective. Currently duplicated services and some administrative functions can be eliminated, and the services can be provided in a more efficient manner.
This will result in more resources available for coordinated and substantive outreach to alumni.
“Guiding alumni relations efforts from within the Foundation will result in streamlined operations for both organizations, making it the best return on investment for the University of Connecticut,” Newton added. “This change will lead to a more diverse and engaged alumni community, one that is free of barriers and open to all.”
The board action includes a three-month extension to the University’s memorandum of understanding with the Alumni Association for the specific purpose of effecting a transition of alumni relations activities by June 30. The University and the Foundation also entered into a three-month agreement covering this transition. During that time, the University and the Foundation will formalize a commitment on how to incorporate alumni outreach and engagement responsibilities into the scope of services it provides UConn in addition to generating private support.