The ACBOD? Huh?

What is the Alumni Board? Is it the same as ACBOD? Who’s on it? What does the Board do?

As president of the Alumni Board (or, yes, ACBOD – which stands for Alumni Corporation Board of Directors), I am often asked such questions about who we are and what we do. Having just returned from our spring meeting on campus, I thought I’d share a glimpse of the purpose and makeup of the Alumni Board.

Colgate’s Alumni Board is a volunteer leadership group with an advisory and service role. It is different than the Board of Trustees, which has responsibility for policy and budget decisions.

Our Board is a reflection of the alumni body. Spanning over 50 years of graduating classes, our current roster has 38 men, 17 women (keeping in mind that Colgate became co-ed in 1970), and five alumni of color. Two thirds of us are fraternity or sorority members. We are teachers, lawyers, artists, bankers, doctors, entrepreneurs, graduate students, journalists, and more.

The connective thread among us is a passion for helping Colgate, and the Board is an incredibly dedicated group. Our members schedule time off from work, and juggle family and social commitments to travel to Colgate three times a year. Many are within driving distance, but others fly in from California, Texas, Georgia, and Illinois among other states to spend a few days in Hamilton (all at their own expense, by the way).

Much of our work is accomplished through Board committees which help us stay informed on many different topics. Some committees are geared to campus issues – Admissions and Financial Aid, Athletics, Advancement (fundraising), Career Services, Technology and Communications, and University Relations (covering student life and faculty/academic topics). In our discussions, we offer advice, share alumni perspectives and look for ways to expand alumni involvement.

Other committees focus on alumni affairs. Our District Clubs Committee supports the 50+ local alumni clubs around the country and the world. The Awards Committee selects recipients of annual recognition, including outstanding volunteer service by alumni and distinguished teaching by faculty. And the Nominations Committee annually recommends a new slate of directors for four-year terms, reviewing hundreds of names to select those alumni who will best serve Colgate. The most important factor considered is demonstrated commitment and prior alumni service to Colgate.

We also take on projects that help Colgate. Examples include the annual Real World program for seniors, summer intern receptions, career transition discussions for recent grads, and financial support for the village revitalization and library construction. And we make sure we have informal time to mingle and meet with students, providing whatever help we can and staying in touch with campus issues.

So how did we spend our time on campus this past weekend? Here are some highlights:

A dozen of us arrived a day early to meet with students. Some participated in Ethics and Entrepreneurship workshops led by leadership expert (and former alumni board member) Jim Quick ’68; a few conducted mock interviews at career services; and others met with Broad Street students to discuss ways to expand alumni involvement in fraternities, sororities and other houses. That evening, as more alumni rolled into town, about 35 students joined us for an informal dinner at the Colgate Inn.

On Saturday and Sunday we had back-to-back meetings with staff members and students, some of us starting as early as 7:00 a.m. (yes, 7 a.m.) on Saturday morning. Among the many topics discussed were Outdoor Education, Colgate-sponsored fellowships, the COVE, technology initiatives and national trends in financial aid and admissions.

The Board met on Saturday with President Chopp and on Sunday with trustee (and former alumni board member) Denis Cronin ’69 to discuss Colgate’s fundraising plans and ways we can help. A few Board members did double duty, attending a meeting of the Fraternity and Sorority Alumni Initiative, a committee of Greek-letter alumni providing advice to Colgate on the various issues and opportunities resulting from ownership of the houses.

As usual, the weekend was exhausting and exhilarating. We feel privileged to serve Colgate in meaningful ways, and we are proud of our contributions to students, alumni and the University. For those of you graduating in a few weeks, we look forward to welcoming you into the amazing community of Colgate alumni. And for those returning to Colgate next year, we’ll hopefully see you soon on campus!