2009 was, simply put, an amazing year for the Arizona State University Alumni Association. In a challenging economic climate, our organization’s staff and volunteer leadership have tapped their creative reserves, finding ways to continue support of the university and its current students, enhance the experiences and benefits offered to our alumni, and expand the organization’s role as university tradition-keeper. They also have found innovative ways to keep our organization healthy and stable.
Early in the year, the Alumni Association increased the Sun Devil Advocates Network and members lobbied the Arizona Legislature to include adequate funding for higher education in the FY 2009 state budget. Another event in which we acted to further the university’s goals came during our annual Founders’ Day celebration in March. We collaborated with the ASU Foundation to provide a public unveiling for the Challenges Project at ASU, an ambitious initiative that aims to identify the most pressing local and global issues of our time, and harness the university’s resources to help solve them.
This year, the association increased the number of programs offered to Sun Devil students and alumni. The Student Alumni Association (SAA), our group for current undergraduate students, experienced a 10-fold increase in membership over the past year to include more than 1,200 current members. We’ve expanded our Senior Year Experience program, which provides a link between the underclassmen-focused activities of SAA and the Arizona State Young Alumni group. In the fall, we launched the Arizona State Young Alumni program for graduates under age 35. This activity-oriented group is guided by a council of more than two dozen young alums on the rise. Our program for ASU families, Sun Devil Generations, added performances of Valley Youth Theatre shows for Generations members to its popular holiday story time and fall carnival events.
Our chapter network remains strong, with chapters, clubs and connection groups all across the country, including a new chapter in Georgia and new connection groups in Wisconsin, St. Louis and Kansas City. Chapter leaders organized “Sun Devil Send-Offs” for incoming ASU freshmen in their areas this summer, and were instrumental in the success of our away-game Sparky’s Touchdown Tailgate series.
Alumni also engage with us through events, and we had a very successful “Conversation with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor” breakfast in October, which attracted an audience of more than 600! We also hosted a Homecoming Legends Luncheon that honored the late Bruce Snyder, former ASU head football coach, and presented regular meetings of the Women in Business and Maroon and Gold Professionals career networking groups.
We’ve exercised our role as the university’s tradition-keeper in a number of ways this year. The revitalized SAA program led more than 1,500 students in whitewashing the “A” on Hayden (Tempe) Butte in August. We’ve also hosted annual signature events such as Founders’ Day, Homecoming and Golden Reunion. The latter is held during Spring Commencement for the ASU class celebrating its 50th anniversary; this year was extra special, as the class of 1959 was able to participate in a Commencement ceremony that featured the keynote address by President Barack Obama.
This year, the Alumni Association stepped up promotion of its “home,” Old Main on the Tempe campus, as an event venue, perfect for weddings, conferences or business meetings. We continue to diversify the composition of a key part of our governance structure, the ASU National Alumni Council. We’ve added members with a variety of academic and professional backgrounds from all over the country, and we’re confident the council, launched during 2008-09, will evolve into a strong national voice for our organization and for the university itself.
We value feedback from our members, and strive to keep the lines of communication open with them. We had several thousand alumni participate in an online survey designed to find out which programs and services were most valuable to them. Alums are kept informed of ASU-related happenings through our award-winning quarterly print magazine, ASU Magazine, as well as an array of online communications tools, such as the recently redesigned ASU Alumni Connection e-newsletter, our Web site, our social media accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and our new podcast series, “The Alumni Experience,” which recently debuted on the ASU on iTunes U network. We also launched a direct-action e-mail group this year, the ASU Action Network, which allows participants the opportunity to take quick, targeted actions on behalf of ASU from their computer desktop.
The Alumni Association has accomplished so much this year, but we cannot do it without you. Your support drives our success and connects you to the ASU family.
Best wishes to you and Happy New Year!
Listen to Dr. Wilkinson discuss more 2009 highlights on The Alumni Experience, the official podcast of the ASU Alumni Association!
This was an ASU Alumni Association update from Dr. Christine K. Wilkinson.
President of the ASU Alumni Association
Senior Vice President and Secretary of the University