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The Alumni Council: St. Lawrence’s “Permanent Focus Group”
By Ken Polk ’91 and Megan Bernier ’07, with Lisa Cania M’82, P’07

Since the late 19th century, when visionary alumni started its earliest incarnation, St. Lawrence University’s Alumni Executive Council has played a large role in building, creating and preserving the relationships among alumni and with the students, faculty and administrators.  

From informing prospective students about St. Lawrence and helping the career services staff find internships and job opportunities for current students, to working with alumni and raising money for the University, there is not an aspect of St. Lawrence that the 36-member council does not help.  “Active service on the Alumni Council brings one into a close working relationship with faculty, staff and students and gives a sense of genuine involvement in the life of the University,” confirms Doug Brown ’63, who served as president of the council 1998-2000.

It functions, as President Daniel F. Sullivan often says, as “one of the best Alumni Councils in the nation, providing ‘loving criticism’ while serving as a permanent focus group.”
The Power of “Loving Criticism”
Brown understands the concept of “loving criticism” and has seen its power in action. “The University needs to know what alumni think and welcome their input,” he says “The council provides a forum for exactly that and gives alumni everywhere a representative voice in the St. Lawrence enterprise.”  
In the everyday work of a council member, service to current students and alumni is a priority. “The council is helping to produce applicants, students, internships, successful alumni programs and dollars for St. Lawrence,” says Brown.

Lennelle McKinnon '58, right, probably hugged every senior at the Alumni Council Brunch for the Class of 2005. The brunch is just one event the council sponsors for students or alumni.

Indeed, St. Lawrence has become increasingly well known for how active alumni are in helping students with internships and careers after they graduate, and that initiative started with the example the Alumni Council provided to the rest of the St. Lawrence community so many years ago.

What They Do
The council has its own budget, using resources generated by the MBNA affinity credit card program, to fund scholarships, internships, special or pilot projects that benefit alumni, and events on campus for seniors and alumni.

Jeffrey D. Honeywell ’80, president of the council, says, “What most amazes me about the council is that there are so many different classes and eras represented, people with different backgrounds from all areas of the country and various professional lives, yet there is an immediate commonality when we’re all together--which reminds me of what St. Lawrence was when I was there, and what it is today.” 

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