Alumni Column – A Better Colgate

Sean Fitzmichael Devlin '05

Last week, The Maroon-News published a letter from Todd Buchner ’88, a member of A Better Colgate’s Board of Directors. Todd recommended that the Board of Trustees include non-trustee alumni in the Selection Committee for Colgate’s next president. As a Director for A Better Colgate (www.abettercolgate.com), I thought it was important to tell you about this growing independent alumni organization which is working on behalf of the Colgate community to help alumni become more active in Colgate’s governing process.

A Better Colgate is comprised of 23 board members and more than 1,500 alumni supporters, with more joining every day. While we are a diverse group of alumni spanning 53 years of graduating classes, we all have two things in common: our love of Colgate University and our desire to make the ‘Gate a better institution.

A Better Colgate has proposed an amendment to Colgate’s By-laws, which would enable alumni to elect a portion of the members of the Board of Trustees in open and fair elections. Currently, the Board ratifies its own members from a slate recommended by the seven Trustees on the Nominating Committee.

Empowering alumni to elect trustees will make Colgate a better institution by providing accountability, transparency and inclusivity. At other universities, alumni elections of some of the Board of Trustees have a positive correlation to increased alumni donor rates and involvement with the university.

The Colgate Trustees have a unique opportunity to provide leadership which will engage alumni in building Colgate’s future. We encourage them to take this bold step.

While Colgate continues to have many successes to celebrate, alumni and students support our initiative because they are asking why it costs over $51,000 to attend Colgate. They recognize $33 million in cost overruns for the building of Case Library and the Ho Science Center is too high. They question the need for a bloated administration resulting in a 3:1 ratio of students to employees. They are concerned that year after year, student cost increases far exceed inflation increases. These are only a few indications that Colgate can do better for her current and future students.

We’re asking the entire Colgate community for an open and honest dialogue concerning the objective of working together to make Colgate a better institution. Alumni deserve a voice, above and beyond their checkbooks, in Colgate’s governance and future. Let’s begin the dialogue!