In an effort to improve the relationship between the university and its alumni, SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian has set up an Ad Hoc Alumni Relations Task Force.
In an address to the campus community released on Jan. 23 on the New Paltz website, Christian said he believes the bond between the alumni and the college is an important one, and that improving the relationship with alumni will help future generations of students.
“New Paltz boasts more than 60,000 alumni residing in many countries around the world,” Christian said. “We have an opportunity right now to do a vastly better job than we have done in building a worldwide community of SUNY New Paltz alumni. Strengthening our 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.”
In the address, Christian said Vice President for Enrollment Management L. David Eaton will chair the committee and that recently-hired Director of Alumni Relations Brenda Dow will serve as vice chair.
Eaton said building a relationship with alumni will also benefit current and future students.
“We have alumni spread out in places like California and D.C. and we want to work with these alumni to provide them with networking and work with them to grow internship opportunities for students,” Eaton said. “Our alumni that aren’t retired — and there’s a lot of them — are out in the professional world. It’s a very powerful network of people that graduated from here.”
Dow said the current goal of the task force is to set up a foundation and provide groundwork for building relationships with alumni across the globe.
“The task force is charged with creating a draft mission statement and a draft strategic plan for the office of alumni relations that is congruent with and supportive of the College’s institutional priorities and SUNY System guidelines,” she said.
Eaton’s plan is to look at and adapt methods used by other schools in the country with strong alumni bases. Eaton pointed out schools like the University of Michigan and SUNY Oneonta, among other private institutions, as places where their alumni relations programs excel.
“Within our own backyard, the best SUNY in terms of maintaining a connection with their alumni hands down is SUNY Oneonta,” he said. “They have really, really loyal alumni. As far as alumni go, they’re a great place to look.”
Eaton and Dow are both in the process of selecting members to the task force. Eaton said they are looking to appoint eight to 10 people to the task force and would include a variety of resources from the community that are “good thinkers and not shy.”
“The best way to develop a task force is to look at people who have information and skills consistent with the demands of what the task force is going to be,” Eaton said. “So we want people who write well, want some alums, somebody from the faculty, somebody from the administration and somebody from outside of the college. You want to have a whole host of perspectives.”
Eaton said the first scheduled meeting of the Ad Hoc Task Force will be held at the end of the month. The force will be kept intact until June 30 of this year.