Last month, SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian announced the creation of a new New Paltz Alumni Association, the only official alumni organization of the college. Students automatically become a part of the association upon their graduation from the college.
Christian said this association was created because of a meeting in November of 2012, which included more than 100 faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and foundation board directors. Everyone in attendance split up into nine groups to develop ideas that would improve the college.
“Every one of those nine groups said that we need to engage our alumni more effectively in the life of the college,” he said.
As a result, Christian said he formed an alumni task force, where he met with Director of Alumni Relations Brenda Dow, Vice President of Enrollment Management L. David Eaton and alumni to think of new ways to further connect with alumni. From that process, the idea of forming a new alumni association was created.
Dow said New Paltz now has the opportunity to become closer with its alumni.
“Strengthening ties with our graduates is not only the right thing to do, but it is something we must do if the college is to thrive and continue to educate new generations of students,” she said.
Christian said the new alumni association is different from the former one because it is not a non-profit organization, which is not consistent with SUNY guidelines on how alumni organizations should be formed.
Dow said this new association is important for current students because it allows them to form relationships with the alumni. She also said this will help current students since alumni are the largest group of individual donors to the SUNY New Paltz Foundation, which funds scholarships and programs.
“Networking is an important component to personal and professional growth, so opportunities where students can hear from alumni and meet them are meaningful to students as well as alumni,” she said
Christian said alumni love getting engaged with the current student body and helping students gain an internship.
Dow said Christian has been communicating with the school’s 60,000 alumni for more than a year now about focusing their bond with the school.
Christian said when he traveled to California, D.C., Florida and Georgia to meet with alumni in the those areas, they said they felt disenfranchised from the school because they didn’t live in the tri-state area where they could attend meetings, which were required for the school’s old alumni association.
Dow said in addition to connecting with other people, the alumni association allows alumni to learn about what’s going on at the college. She said in August a group of alumni joined administrators to watch a 3-D Printing demonstration at the New York State Fair. They also listened to the Deans who oversee New Paltz’s 3-D printing initiative.
Currently, Dow said the Office of Alumni Relations is preparing a 2014 alumni schedule of events, which will be shared via email, the school’s official alumni Facebook page, the alumni LinkedIn group, the monthly “Connect” e-newsletter, and in the College’s semi-annual “New Paltz Magazine.”
Looking forward, Dow said having a strong relationship with alumni is important for the future of the college.