You weren’t impressed with the tailgate party at Homecoming. Fair enough. The Alumni Association invites you, the students, to help us throw a cooler party that will attract more alumni back to campus. But, if we’re being fair, your editorial titled: “Let’s Get the Party Started” (Oct. 13) looks only at a nanosecond of alumni outreach and uses that to draw broad and unfounded conclusions about alumni engagement at Binghamton University.
Alumni engagement is not just about one party, it’s about keeping graduates connected to our school — and I’d pit Binghamton’s efforts behind alumni engagement against any school’s. Princeton (founded 1746), and a private school, and University of Delaware (founded 1743) — the two schools you mention — both have had 200 more years than Binghamton University (founded 1946) to build up school pride — not to mention football teams to rally behind during Homecoming. Despite its obvious disadvantages as compared to your exemplar schools, Binghamton has accomplished huge successes in alumni engagement recently.
Start with Homecoming 2015. Binghamton dedicated its first ever Alumni Center right smack in the middle of campus. Last year, Binghamton rolled out its first-ever University-wide Strategic Plan for Alumni Engagement. The Plan, which was prepared by the Alumni Association, included input from the president, the provost, the vice presidents, the deans and other campus leaders and partners. Not impressed yet? Consider these numbers: There are 14 new regional chapters of the Alumni Association across the globe that were launched in the last three years, almost 3,500 alumni came out for events last year and we’ve increased alumni volunteers from just over 650 in 2011 to almost 1,150 last year. We’ve recently attracted some never-been-back-to-campus alumni, including U.S. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries ’92 (who’s been back twice) and Stephanie Courtney ’92 (better known as “Flo”), who spoke at commencement this past May. We’ve also added exciting new programming, like the Alumni Global Day of Service, which right out of the gate drew approximately 420 volunteers, including 70 students. And, the alumni giving rate at Binghamton University — while not as high as we’d like it to be — is consistent with the rates among public universities across the country.
The bottom line is that while we’ve made a lot of progress in promoting alumni engagement, we agree with you that more work needs to be done. And it’s never too early to get involved. So, let’s work together to advance the future of our great school. Help your Alumni Association achieve its mission of alumni engagement. You can start by visiting the Alumni Office at the new Alumni Center; it’s right smack in the middle of campus!
Heidi B. Goldstein ‘81
President of the Binghamton University Alumni Association