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Focusing on the future
During the past year, I have been honored to serve as the National President of the Alumni Association. One of our primary initiatives this year has been the creation of a strategic plan. The objective of this plan is to develop a concrete vision for the Alumni Association that elevates our organization in the eyes of both our alumni and the University, with an action plan to match.
But how do we do this? We have chosen a process that employs a variety of tools to gather data, feedback, and ideas. First, we have gathered our own empirical data about our alumni. (Who knew, for example, that 45 percent of our alumni have graduated within the last 15 years?) We have also interviewed alumni organizations at other schools, including Notre Dame, USC, Stanford, Gonzaga, and Georgetown. Although the institutions we chose each have different budgets and alumni populations, the benchmarking exercise was useful in helping us think about how we might take our own association to the next level.
The most important contribution of ideas, however, has come from Santa Clara friends and family. We have held numerous focus groups throughout the year and have benefited from the voices of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, chapter leaders from across the nation, Alumni Association past presidents, our alumni office staff, SCU department and graduate school representatives, and Fr. Locatelli. We also have had great input from those of you who participated in the online alumni survey earlier this spring. I thank each of you who have collectively contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to this important project.
As we sift through all of the data we have collected, some common themes are beginning to emerge:
- The importance of the Alumni Association as the continuity and the “glue” for the Santa Clara family among each other and to the University. The glue is physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual; ongoing engagement, lifelong learning, and service to others remain key themes.
- The importance of maintaining and communicating the traditions and legacies that make Santa Clara special to its alumni.
- The challenge associated with staying connected—which comes from changing alumni demographics, competing alumni affiliations, information overload, and personal life pressures.
- The importance of reaching out to current students.
- The rapid evolution of technology and electronic communication and how they are changing the way we connect with each other and the University. How should we respond?
- The cost of a Santa Clara education is rising, which poses challenges to the existing scholarship map. Is there an opportunity for our alumni organization to make an impact?
In the months ahead, you will be hearing more from the Donohoe Alumni House about our progress as we define our priorities and shape the programs required to meet those priorities. Stay tuned!
Finally, I am pleased to report that Santa Clara alumni made gifts of $119.8 million (30 percent) of the total $404 million raised in the Campaign for Santa Clara that just ended. Approximately 36 percent of our alumni made a gift of some amount, as did 30 percent of our parents. This just goes to prove that no gift is too large or too small, and that they indeed all add up.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your National Alumni Association President over the past year. I look forward to seeing you at an alumni event soon.
Laurie Hernandez ’85
President, National Alumni Association