Members of the SUNY New Paltz Community:
I am pleased to share our new alumni strategic plan. A task force developed the plan, submitted it in July for review, and I approved it in full. The plan includes task force findings, desired outcomes, and a matrix of action items to be phased in during the next five years, all designed to support the campus-wide strategic plan’s essential initiative of “Engaging alumni in the life of the College.”
Vice President David Eaton was chair of this task force, and Director of Alumni Relations Brenda Dow was vice chair. The task force met weekly throughout the spring and early summer. Among other efforts, they reviewed many documents including SUNY standards for alumni organizations, investigated best practices and visited other campuses, and conducted focus groups with alumni. I am grateful to David and Brenda for their effective leadership of this work, and to the members of the task force and contributing alumni who have made it such a success.
During last year’s College strategic plan development, strengthening alumni relations emerged as a dominant theme among most-needed improvements at New Paltz. Our day-long planning retreat in November 2012 was organized primarily around a series of exercises and discussions in nine small groups. At the end of the day, each group was asked to identify 3-5 priorities. All nine groups identified, in some form, improving alumni relations as a top priority.
Putting alumni engagement at the core of strategic planning is a new direction for the campus. Alumni relations as we’ve known it on this campus will change significantly during the next five years. Our goal is to ensure that alumni relations and connections are a high-profile institutional objective, and all members of the college community are actively involved and aware of the individual role they play in promoting lifelong engagement of New Paltz graduates in the life of the college.
One of the first action items will be the creation of an alumni advisory board, with members appointed by me upon recommendation by the Director of Alumni Relations, who will direct the work of this board. We need a strong volunteer advisory group to provide recommendations to our alumni director on how best to address institutional priorities outlined in the plan. The alumni office needs the participation of active alumni volunteers committed to promoting the continued success of the college by harnessing the collective power of New Paltz’s global network of loyal alumni. The alumni advisory board will be organized to conform with SUNY system standards and expectations for alumni support organizations.
Among the desired outcomes is that all alumni are apprised of the college’s renewed determination to embrace its graduates in meaningful ways, and that a sense of school pride and lifelong engagement are effectively fostered among students throughout their educational careers, to successfully transition them from active and engaged students to loyal and involved alumni.
The task force’s findings and recommendations have already been used by the Office of Alumni Relations to create a new alumni Facebook page (www.facebook.com/npalumni) launched on July 23 and to enhance the scheduling, programming, communications and campus outreach for the all-alumni Reunion being held Sept. 20-22.
During this first year of the plan, Brenda Dow will collaborate with various campus offices, departments, alumni, and students to develop approaches to improve alumni communications and to identify and track alumni volunteers to ensure they are matched with meaningful opportunities and the information and guidance they need to help address institutional objectives. Steps will also be taken to improve professional development and career-related services to address alumni needs and interests.
Alumni programming for 2013-14 will focus on educating the campus community and all graduates about the approved alumni strategic plan and what they may anticipate during the next five years for enhanced alumni engagement. “The new Alumni Strategic Plan: What’s in it for You” is a 45-minute presentation being offered at Reunion on Saturday, Sept. 21 as part of that educational process (details at www.newpaltz.edu/alumni/reunion).
To access the alumni strategic plan, go to http://www.newpaltz.edu/alumni/plan.html. To provide input to the Office of Alumni Relations regarding the alumni strategic plan, complete the online form at the bottom of the web page.
Donald P. Christian