Rutgers President Announces Sweeping Plan to Strengthen Alumni Relations

Rutgers President Announces Sweeping Plan to Strengthen Alumni Relations

Dec. 6, 2007


EDITORS NOTE: The full report of the Task Force on Alumni Relations can be found online at



Board of Governors endorses recommendations to enhance engagement

of present and future alumni with the university


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. Declaring that strong bonds with passionate, loyal and engaged alumni are essential to Rutgers future, President Richard L. McCormick announced a sweeping plan to strengthen and enhance the relationship between the university and its 362,000 alumni worldwide.

The presidents plan, endorsed by the Rutgers Board of Governors at its regular meeting today, reflects a comprehensive set of recommendations developed by the Task Force on Alumni Relations together with input from a series of public forums held this fall.

McCormick appointed the task force, composed of 27 university and alumni representatives, in September 2006 to examine the Rutgers alumni experience and structure of the universitys alumni relations program. The president charged the task force with proposing steps to increase alumni engagement and unify the university and its alumni around the mutual goals of advancing the institution and serving its graduates.

It is in this partnership that universities flourish and alumni thrive, McCormick said. Just as the recent transformation of undergraduate education has improved the student experience at Rutgers, the alumni experience must also be enhanced. For Rutgers to reach its place among the top tier of Americas research universities, its alumni must have a strong and engaged presence within the institution.

Addressing several areas from volunteer and administrative structures to funding, the plan specifically proposes:

The establishment of the Rutgers University Alumni Association (RUAA), a new, single, all-encompassing volunteer structure to include all Rutgers graduates from all campuses. The current alumni associations may continue to exist within the RUAA, and all current and future alumni will automatically become members of the RUAA.

Lifetime membership in the RUAA for all Rutgers alumni

Unprecedented access for the alumni body to the universitys three governing boards by expanding the charter of the Board of Governors Committee on University Relations to also encompass alumni relations, and creating a joint committee of the boards of Governors, Trustees and Overseers

Establishment of an alumni center or presence on each of the three main campuses

Distribution of Rutgers Magazine to all alumni

President McCormick said the public forums helped shape the final recommendations. Conducted on all three campuses and online, the forums brought out many longtime, committed volunteers who articulated their concerns, particularly about the potential impact of a single alumni association on professional-school alumni groups.

Effective today, McCormick named Donna Thornton as vice president of alumni relations and Carol Herring as executive vice president for development and alumni relations. Since 2006, Thornton has served as associate vice president of alumni relations and executive vice president of the alumni federation, while Herring has been president of the Rutgers University Foundation and vice president for development and alumni relations since 2005.

These two promotions are further evidence of the universitys commitment to bringing alumni relations to the highest level of governance, McCormick said.

The president today also appointed an implementation team to lead the next phase of the alumni transformation. He named Robert Stevenson, former president of the Rutgers Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Trustees and alumni task force, as its chair.

Gene OHara, who chaired the task force, said a strong, mutually beneficial partnership between alumni and the university easily became the centerpiece of its recommendations. Nothing short of a full partnership seemed appropriate, said OHara, who is a member and

former chair of the Board of Governors.

Gerald Harvey, who served as vice chair of the task force and also chairs the Rutgers Board of Trustees, said the task force was moved to ensure that cherished traditions and involved, committed alumni would not be overlooked, and that future alumni would be cultivated and nurtured more effectively.

We have not done as good a job as other schools have, Harvey said. We need to build the sense that you are part of the alumni family from the day a student becomes a member of the Rutgers community.

He noted that while some alumni groups have successfully engaged students at their schools or campuses, their efforts have not been far reaching.

We have a lot of best practices, Harvey said. Now, we will have the structure and opportunity to expand them across the university.

The new structure will lead to enhanced services and opportunities, Thornton said.

A stronger alumni relations structure can create opportunities for shared experiences among alumni from all schools, be they social, educational or service-oriented, without campus or college boundaries determining where or with whom they occur, Thornton said. We envision Rutgers alumni connecting in multiple settings as members of one university, while retaining ties to their friends, social groups or professional-school peers.

The implementation team is to begin meeting this month. The president has set March 31, 2008, as the target date for the new board of directors of the Rutgers University Alumni Association and the operating structure for alumni relations to be in place.

Contact: Greg Trevor

732-932-7084, Ext. 623


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BOG-Alumni Plan 12-06.REV.ed