This past April, the UConn Alumni Association consolidated with the UConn Foundation. Ballots were sent out to the 14,000 members of the Alumni Association, who voted to dissolve the association.
The association is in its remaining few weeks of transition into the UConn Foundation that will be complete upon the beginning of the school year.
UConn has over 230,000 alumni, but just over 6 percent of past students are actively involved.
“This consolidation was meant to deepen engagement, which will be our first course of action,” said Montique Cotton Kelly, head of alumni relations. “We are no longer asking to join as just an alumnus or alumna, but as part of the UConn family.”
The Alumni Association operates independently of the university as a 501c(3) nonprofit and has had a presence on campus since 1888. The association used to collect dues averaging $50 per year, but an Alumni Association board decision in December of 2014 stopped the collection of these fees. UConn President Susan Herbst met with the Alumni Association Board in January of 2015 and suggested that the organization consolidate with the foundation to increase cost effectiveness and increase membership.
“The alumni association disbanded for a lot of reasons, I think it was the economy primarily,” said Carl Ey, an Alumni Association board member. “The university was not happy with that the alumni association had not been able to increase in size and get support from the 230,000 alumni at large.”
Cotton Kelly believes that this new union will allow for more inclusivity.
“It used to be that the only people who could make decisions were the 18 people who sat on the board, said Kelly. “Alumni engagement at UConn is far reaching on and off campus, and this allows for more partnerships.”
As part of the UConn Foundation, the Alumni Association will transfer the Alumni Center to the university. The remaining financial assets and staff positions will be assimilated into the foundation as alumni services.
“Alumni can expect enhanced opportunities to be engaged, an increased admissions network and enhance volunteering opportunities,” said Kelly.
Ey said, “I think that UConn Alumni could lose a voice by joining the foundation.”
Ey also expressed concerns about the ballot proceedings.
“The vote was rushed to meet the intent of the University President,” said Ey. “We asked 14,000 to vote in ten business days, which is very quick turnaround for something like this.”
“This decision [of the ballot timeline] was made by the alumni board of directors and not myself,” Kelly said.
Some alumni have felt that the association has been ineffective, feeling pressured and bothered to donate funds.
“I have a lot of Husky pride, but would love to feel like more than a former student who gives money,” said Kristin English, who graduated from UConn in 2004. “UConn isn’t just where I went to college, it’s where many of my family members went, so I feel a connection to the place. I want to feel like my contributions matter.”
Current students have feelings of indifference and excitement.
Jared Quigley, a sophomore political science major, said, “I really have no opinion on the consolidation whatsoever.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Ashna Gupta, a 3rd-semester business and psychology major. “If I’m correct, the foundation is already trying to create greater networking opportunities for alumni and ensure they’re more engaged in the community, so the more connected UConn alumni are the better."
Elizabeth Charash is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.