The past decade has seen an unprecedented rededication of Carleton's alumni to their stewardship of the College and our basic purposes. This is evident in many ways, including attendance at our annual alumni reunions, the growth of local club activities across the country, the recent formation of the Alumni Admissions Board (AAB), and the emerging initiatives of the Multicultural Alumni Network (MCAN). A particularly powerful sign that our alumni have claimed the responsibility for the health and welfare of Carleton is the phenomenal growth of the Alumni Annual Fund, to the point where it will soon provide ten percent of our annual operating budget. For the first time in Carleton's history we have had two consecutive years of greater than 50 percent participation in alumni giving.
Hundreds of alumni volunteers also support the College in other important ways. They serve on the Board of Trustees, the Alumni Board, reunion committees, and as admissions and Annual Fund volunteers. They lend their assistance and expertise as departmental reviewers and commonly return to campus to meet with students in various departments to discuss academic topics and give career advice. Our career exploration programs and internship opportunities are growing stronger because our alumni are committed to helping our current students think through some of the tough post-Carleton decisions they must make. With the large number of alumni who are connected with graduate programs, either as students or faculty, we have a wonderful network of insiders who can, and do, help students heading for graduate work evaluate various programs.
No other group connected with the College can provide the essential link to our historical roots and fundamental principles. Students are on campus for four years, faculty and staff for perhaps three or four decades at most. Alumni, in a sense, never leave the College. They remind those of us on campus what Carleton has been all about and what our core values are. This awareness is invaluable in helping us see the future. We are especially blessed by the fact that our alumni understand the delicate balance that must be struck between their broad, yet deep, interest in the health and future of Carleton and the day-to-day business of educating students that takes place on campus.
To be successful, Carleton needs its alumni. As we enter the next century, advocates of a first-rate liberal arts education will be called on to speak out and continue to support these colleges in all the ways they have in the past, perhaps more. Alumni are uniquely qualified to make the case for liberal education; after all, they've "been there" and can speak first-hand about how that experience has influenced their lives.
Recommendation: Extend our current programs and initiatives which bring alumni into closer partnership with the College
The rationale for this recommendation is that strong relationships are reciprocal. As we seek more support from alumni in terms of time, money, experience, and expertise, we should work to increase the flow in the opposite direction. Greater understanding on the part of alumni of the Carleton of today not only makes them more informed advocates, but it reinforces the reality that Carleton truly is more than the present population of students, faculty, and staff.
We already reach out to alumni in many ways through alumni events, both on and off campus. But with the advent of various electronic communications technologies, there may be opportunities for alumni to benefit from some of the ongoing intellectual life of the campus. One could imagine course syllabi and reading lists being posted to the World Wide Web for interested alums to pursue independently. We might provide more support of departments in their efforts to maintain alumni networks through annual departmental newsletters and pages on the World Wide Web. Alumni have raised the possibility of Carleton establishing a retirement center and an alumni college. We might wish to explore ways to become more involved in the new Cannon Valley Elder Collegium that has received so much acclaim recently. These are but a few of the many possibilities.