Empowering Alumni

From the University Report (published by the GAA 1970-94)

In mid February directors from around the country gathered in Columbus, Ohio, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of organized alumni work. We all agreed that, increasingly, alumni are assuming the role of partner with faculty, administration, and students in advancing our respective institutions. Gone are the days of looking upon alumni only as sources of funds, or as boosters of athletic programs. University administrators and alumni leaders realize that alumni deserve and have earned the role as partner in advancing their institution. So, instead of thinking of ways to control alumni , we are increasingly looking for ways we can empower them.

Clearly, this is the case at Carolina. Some of the results are measurable. Last year the Carolina Fund reported a record year in private giving with total gifts exceeding $40,000,000. The 50th re union class gift has moved from roughly $300,000 to $2,500,000 in just five years. And this year’s senior class, the class of ’88, set a national record for a senior class gift with pledges in excess of $262, 000.

As the chart below demonstrates, our Association is now among the leaders of public universities with an independent alumni association judged by the percentage of our alumni who are dues-paying Association members.

Our Association is led by a Board of Directors elected by our membership. Over 120 alumni chapters across North Carolina and around the nation are run by alumni chosen from within their community.

There are other less measurable but equally significant contributions that alumni are making. Last year the Board of Visitors established a Task Force to look at undergraduate admissions. Their report has been recognized by faculty, administrators, and other alumni as a thoughtful, thoroughly researched, carefully developed document. All of its recommendations were adopted by the Trustees and Chancellor and many are now being implemented. This year the Board of Visitors has two Task Forces at work — one looking at communications, the other looking at faculty and staff salaries and fringe benefits.

Among the Admissions Task Force’s recommendations was a suggestion that our Association develop an alumni admissions program. Accordingly, we have identified alumni to lead efforts in 11 targeted areas across North Carolina and in the Washington, D.C., and Atlanta areas. Recently, in each of these communities already admitted students and their parents were brought together to visit with and hear from University officials, presently enrolled students, and alumni about housing, financial aid, the undergraduate curriculum and other matters. Alumni will continue to identify and recruit outstanding students to Carolina.

Alumni play an important role in assuring that the North Carolina General Assembly continues to provide generous and much-needed support to one of North Carolina’s greatest resources — our University. Alumni know that Carolina competes nationally for faculty and staff and, thus, needs special considerations.

Alumni are also helping to meet the growing need for student financial aid. Alumni chapters in Wilkes, Northern Orange, and Iredell counties and Boston have developed alumni scholarships in the name of their local chapter. A deserving youngster from each community will now receive a modest scholarship from these thoughtful and generous alumni . These alumni are excited that they are helping a local youngster come to Chapel Hill.

Alumni played an important role in identifying and recruiting the new Dean of the Graduate School of Business Administration, Paul Rizzo ’50, formerly Vice Chairman of the Board of IBM. In addition, alumni are participating in the selection of a new Dean of the School of Law. As our readers are aware, the President of the General Alumni Association, the Honorable James G. Exum Jr. ’57, Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is a member of the Chancellor Search Committee . He serves with several Trustees, all of whom are Carolina alumni, and faculty members, some of whom are UNC alumni.

This increasing alumni involvement is exciting and bodes well for the future of the University. Clearly, Carolina has always enjoyed strong alumni interest and support. Most of the University’s professional schools and colleges are now involving alumni on important advisory boards.

Our faculty members understandably develop a commitment to their disciplines that is often greater than their institutional commitment. Half of our faculty were not here ten years ago. We know that university administrators do not usually remain in their positions for long periods of time.

Alumni, forever, have not only an emotional but a professional interest in the University. The value of our degrees is not measured by the reputation of Carolina when we received them but by the present quality of our University. Most alumni also develop an emotional commitment to Chapel Hill and to Carolina that is life-long.

Many of the professional schools provide continuing professional education. Our own Association, in partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences and the Program in the Humanities, conducts a number of weekend seminars and a week-long Vacation College. Our GAA tour program often includes faculty enrichment lectures. And this publication as well as its companion The Carolina Alumni Review magazine inform alumni about a variety of subjects of concern to our alumni and to the University.

As alumni , our role should no  be that of spectator of our alma mater, but as partners in a growing and exciting enterprise. However, to be a full partner brings with it a special obligation to be fully informed and involved. We can look forward with excitement and anticipation, knowing that the years ahead will provide alumni with expanding opportunities to help advance the University’s outstanding record of teaching, research and public service.

Yours at Carolina,

Doug signature





Douglas S. Dibbert ’70