Making Connections

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Alumni board fosters valuable relationships with their peers, reinventing the relationship between Clark alumni and current students.

By Anna Sorensen

New initiatives discussed at an annual alumni board retreat could reinvent the relationship between Clark alumni and current students.

Three critical areas that directly support students were topics of discussion at the Jan. 25 meeting: Increasing the amount of money raised for scholarships; launching a mentoring program; and helping student-athletes succeed during their collegiate experience.

Over the course of the next year, Clark’s scholarship committee intends to award three full-tuition scholarships, valued at $12,861. They also plan to increase the Endowment Scholarship Fund by $50,000 based on earnings from contributions. The committee consists of four alumni board members.

Jay Gilberg, president of Clark’s alumni board, believes success with these programs are crucial for building strong relationships between alumni and Clark students, especially the mentoring initiative.

“When I first started at Clark I didn’t even know where to park, so having a mentoring program there for nervous new students to give words of advice can be extremely beneficial,” he said.

Gilberg explains how the initiative will work: “The goal is to get new students comfortable with being new at the college and making sure they know about the program. Since the program is still being constructed, getting instructors at the college on board to create awareness is key,” he said.

Michael Jaeger and Dan Brown

Alumnus Michael Jaeger talks with Clark student Dan Brown in the STEM server room. The Alumni board is launching a mentoring program to connect students with alumni to help students navigate their educational path.

The mentoring program will guide students on their educational path as part of the board’s commitment to getting more people involved with the college. Getting involved with the institution is a key component of Clark College Foundation’s Promising Pathways Campaign. Some of the ideas the alumni board members talked at their meeting were how to identify and recruit mentors and the roles they will play.

Meanwhile, the athletic committee will add three new events to its calendar this year including a tailgate doubleheader for both softball and baseball teams on Saturday, May 4, at 11:30 a.m. Next, a golf tournament will be held on Monday, Aug. 12, at Camas Meadows Golf Club. Rounding out the special events is a welcome back barbecue in September on Clark’s main campus in Vancouver.

Reflection

The alumni annual retreat gives members opportunities to review and reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments. Seven strategic events were held in 2018-19, engaging 561 individual alumni, students, family, friends and donors. One example of getting alumni more involved with Clark was the Savoring Excellence Gala held on Nov. 15, 2018. More than 24 percent of the attendees were alumni.

Kelsey Hukill, director of alumni relations, is happy with the results. “It confirmed to us that our small board is a working board. We set ambitious goals and consistently meet them, to the benefit of Clark alumni and students,” she said.

Preparation

There’s a fair bit of work that goes into an alumni retreat. For example, Hukill gathers information from various leaders to learn about the accomplishments over the previous 12 months. Clark’s long-term goals and ways to improve relations with alumni were items Hukill reported to the board during the retreat.

“We met or talked with key leadership at the college, foundation, career services and Clark College Foundation’s Board of Directors to map out strategies for new projects to make sure the alumni board’s work aligns with the college’s strategic plan and the Promising Pathways fundraising campaign,” said Hukill.

Other topics discussed at the January meeting were board recruitment. The alumni board will recruit three to five more individuals over the next year, allowing for new and creative ideas. Anyone interested in learning more about Clark’s Alumni Board can contact alumni@clark.edu.

Getting involved

In an effort to improve relations between alumni and the college, and create more opportunities to engage, Hukill has polled Clark’s alumni base for the past three years. Right now, alumni can take part in the 2019 spring survey by filling it out online today.

There are multiple ways to get involved with Clark. “You can also volunteer for a career classroom visit, alumni panel or informational interview,” said Hukill.

Future plans include adding more discounts to the Penguin Nation passport, an exclusive reward system for alumni who get access to savings at local businesses.

The upcoming baseball-softball tailgate doubleheader event, as well as the golf tournament will bring alumni and students together, encouraging supportive relationships.

“Through the partnership with athletic department, career services, student affairs and faculty, we were able to deliver the kinds of tailored events and services that alumni asked for—the kind that will help them succeed,” said Hukill.

Over the past two years, the alumni board has reinvented the way in which it has connected with alumni; however, there are many more ideas to cultivate.

“We are not done yet; we have a lot of work to do, but we are committed to doing more for Clark College,” said Hukill.

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Anna Sorensen is a student at Clark studying communications.

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