Alumni Executive Council Virtual Business Meeting

July 16, 2020

President Sue North called the meeting to order at 7:03 pm ET.

Alumni Executive Council Logo

Following roll call by Secretary Laura Patrick, a quorum was documented.

Present:  Bates, Baucom, Bickford, Blank, Cassidy, Cochran, Colton, Colucci, DeCamp, Egbert, Frank, Friedlander, Gilbert, Giles, Glass, Gross, Hann, Higgins, Ireland, Jenkins, Johnson, Kallet, Kelly, Lancaster, Levi, Lloyd, Martin, McGee, McManus, McSweeney, Michaelson, North, Patrick, Price, Rana, Richman, Russell, Ryan, Ryan, Smith, Sylla, Wells, Wieland, Willis, Wilson, Woolf, Zonitch

Not Present:  Abernethy, Acuria, Danielson, Hakewill, Hartz, Kelly, Merrell, Pollard, Santini, Stern

A motion to approve the 24 March 2020 Business Meeting minutes was made by Jeff Wells and seconded by Carol Lancaster.  All approved.

President’s Report – Sue North

Sue thanked everyone for their participation during Virtual Canaras and for their participation in two AEC efforts:  100% for the COVID-19 Student Emergency Fund and 52% for the Growing Forward giving challenge in June.  She also mentioned overall great participation over the 7-week long Virtual Canaras sessions.  A Survey Monkey will be sent out shortly for feedback on this and the next all-AEC meeting currently scheduled for late October.  Current assumption is that it will also need to be held remotely.

Committee meetings are in full swing.  Sue and Elizabeth Colucci are representing council on the university’s “Experience St. Lawrence” task force and are on a sub-committee focused on career development, internships, and mentorship.

The Board of Trustees met June 25th & 26th, 2020.  It was an abbreviated meeting which focused primarily on the plan for re-opening.  There was no presentation from the AEC (but Sue N. was in attendance).

Sue ended by urging all member to sign up for and utilize Laurentian Connections.  More and more alumni and students need help.

Campus Report – Kim Hissong

Kim focused her report on President Fox’s letter of July 15, 2020 which focused on the return to campus -- the overall theme being, “Always Forward”.  The note was first sent to the Board of Trustees and the AEC and then on to all alumni, parents, friends, and students.

While the plan is quite detailed, elements of particular relevance include:

  • Campus capacity held to 1,800 students.  This was driven by NYS mandates including the need to plan for adequate quarantine space as well as on-campus considerations such as residence hall and dining hall capacity.
  • The offering of three semesters of which students will attend two
  • Combination of on-line and hybrid classes
  • Summer session will offer study abroad opportunities as allowed

The fall session is scheduled to begin August 25, 2020, the spring session January 4th, 2021, and the summer session May 3, 2021.  Not all students received first choice.  Priority given to first years and seniors.  SLU is working to ensure international student requirements are met regarding class structure (on-line vs. hybrid).

A thorough COVID-19 testing plan is in place.  Returning students will be required to sign a Laurentian Pact.  At this time, no visitors will be allowed on campus.  This include parents, alumni, and guest speakers.  The Liberty League sports schedule will begin later and include amended scheduling.  No spectators will be allowed at this time.  In-person Homecoming and Family Weekend are cancelled.  There is planning for a virtual “Laurentian Weekend” that will include parents and alumni – more information coming.

Commencement for the Class of 2021 will be held April 25, 2021.  Commencement for the Class of 2020 will be held August 1, 2021.  Both classes will have some version of a senior week experience (could be truncated).  The new date for combined reunion is July 15th - 18th, 2021.

All information, in more detail, is provided on the website.  It is well-organized, but if anyone needs help or clarification, please forward their contact information to Kim H. for assistance.  All AEC members are encouraged to read through the plan.

Nancy Frank asked if Canaras will be open in 2021.  There has been no decision as yet.  There was a question from Doug Smith regarding how quarantining from a hotspot prior to move-in would work.  COVID-19 tests will be required 5-7 days in advance of return to campus.  Quarantining, if required, would most likely be at a local hotel.  Concerned students should contact Student Life prior to their return.  There was also a question regarding hybrid classes for international students.  Kim was quite confident that SLU will be able to accommodate this requirement.

Student Delegate Report – Evelin Gilbert, Tarrah Price, Sohel Rana, Hammi Sylla, Dylan Woolf

Our student delegates provided updates from campus on topics as follows:

Sohel Rana:  Centers for International & Intercultural Studies and International Studies Services

Dylan Woolf:  Career Services

Tarrah Price:  Housing & Residential Life and Athletics

Hammi Sylla:  Clubs & Organizations and Diversity & Inclusion (Age of BLM)

Evelin Gilbert:  Academic Transition, Dining Services, and Health & Counseling Services

A summary of all updates are contained in the following Google docs file (Kim will provide to council as follow-up):

Group Photo

The meeting was paused here to take the traditional AEC Canaras photo.

Treasurer’s Report/Finance & Resources Committee and Power of Connections Update – Mike Kallet and Gary Zonitch

Mike Kallet began with a brief summary of the AEC budget.  Expenses are lagging due to the current situation with COVID-19 and several cancelled events.  There are on-going discussions as to what funding the AEC will receive and how dollars may be reallocated due to cancellations.  Not reflected in the budget view provided is $10,000 held separately as a rainy day fund.  $2,500 has already been moved to support the Emergency Student Assistance Fund.  The AEC Internship Endowment currently stands at $356,306.  Again, due to COVID-19, the typical budget timeline is subject to change.

Gary Zonitch presented an update on the new endowment fund, Power of Connections, intended to support such activities as LINC, Sophomore Boot Camp, etc.  The AEC has received permission to begin drawing on funds once we reach $50,000 (versus the usual requirement of $150,000).  Currently, the fund stands at $48,625 in gifts and pledges.


Admissions – Scott Giles and Sarah Wieland

The committee met with Florence Hines and focused on how best the AEC may support current admissions efforts.  AEC members (and other alums) will be asked to reach out to deposited students via text or e-mail to highlight an experience to which they can look forward.  Please volunteer if you can.

Advancement – Rob Glass / Carol Lancaster

Advancement met last night (7/15) to review 2020-2021 goals.  Advancement tends to work closely with the Engagement team.  The Laurentian Gives (LG) program (run by Beth Dixon) is well-staffed with volunteers.  All Advancement and Engagement committee members should be signed up – if not please reach out to Beth.   The group is also looking at opportunities relating to affinity groups.  Rob mentioned a coordinated group fundraising effort with the Black Student Union (working with Hammi S.).  Rob urged AEC members to think about other possible affinity efforts.  Senior class giving rates are strong with 2019 over 80%.  Numbers for 2020 are still coming in.  Looking at ways to discuss the Power of Connection with Young Alumni and current students.

Communications & Marketing – Alyssa Cochran and Dave Bickford

Alyssa advised that the committee is working with the university on webpage edits for the new SLU web design scheduled for release in 2021.  The current issue of the St. Lawrence Magazine includes a note from President Sue North.

Dave advised that the committee is working on birthday wishes for AEC members.  The committee is putting together a social media guide which will help AEC members support SLU through re-sharing, “liking’, etc. for AEC events and projects.

Engagement – Sally McSweeney and Randy Wilson

The committee has met twice over the past several weeks.  Their theme is “Communications / Connections / Community”.

They are working on several things for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year.  The events we are investigating to undertake in the immediate future are:

  1. Wine Tasting
  2. Beer Tasting
  3. Chapter "Presidents" in some US cities
  4. Happy hour to include families over Family Weekend
  5. Virtual Speed Connecting

Membership & Honors – Molly Hann

Molly reported that M&H anticipates four openings for new Alumni Council members for the 2021-2022 year.  There is an existing list of robust nominations, but the committee also put out a call for new nominations last month.  Kim will send another reminder this week.  M&H will begin our review of nominations in September.

Early this fall M&H will also begin second term conversations with those who are slated to end their first term this year.  There are nine in total.  Those conversations will determine if there are any additional openings.

The bylaws require that each Group represent approximately 20% of the surviving members of the Association.   Based on our evaluation, adjustments to the class year ranges have been made for each Group:

  • Group I (classes up through 1976)
  • Group II (classes of 1977-1987)
  • Group III (classes of 1988-1999)
  • Group IV (classes of 2000-2010)
  • Group V (classes of 2011-2020)

Council members will stay in the original groups they were recruited into.  The new groups definitions affect recruitment moving forward.

Molly shared one recent resignation:  Eli Pimentel ’13.  No other resignations or leaves of absence to report at this time.

Student Services – Elizabeth Colucci and Cheryl Gross

Elizabeth is, along with Sue North, representing the AEC on the Experience St. Lawrence task force.  The committee held its first meeting on June 8

Cheryl mentioned:

  • Alumni Insight Series—4 sessions have been held this summer: How to Build a Powerful Brand…Even with No Experience: Healthcare on the Front Lines of Covid-19; Navigating the US Job Search Process as an International Student and Using LinkedIn to your Advantage. 11 Alums participated and 56 Students participated.
  • Laurentians Lead Program is a job shadowing program both in person and/or virtual. This program is designed for and will be limited to Classes of 2020 and 2021. If you have interest in participating go to Laurentian Connection, select Groups, select All Groups, select Laurentians Lead, click on green ‘join’ button.
  • Micro Internships which are 10 – 40-hour student projects which may eventually lead to a full-time Internship or job and allowing for upskilling and networking are being sought by students.
  • This Fall: SLU Connect, Laurentian-in-Residence, and LINC Programs will likely be virtual.


Affinities & Affiliations – Brian Abernethy and Mike Santini

No report.

Auction – Paige Friedlander and Gary Zonitch

The Auction Committee held their first meeting with Kim to learn about AEC auction history (format, logistics, money raised). Current considerations for fall 2021 include whether the format will have a virtual component and the addition of a smaller price point raffle.  The committee will be looking for a small curated list of special St. Lawrence related items.  

Diversity & Inclusion – Sajana Blank

The committee is meeting bi-weekly.  Initial meetings have been to build trust and community within the committee.  Stated objectives are:

  • Provide on-going resources for council to support D&I throughout AEC activities and programming
  • Create strategies to engage with underrepresented alumni
  • Work with M&H to ensure diverse council recruitment

Initial efforts are focused on September training session for council.   Sajana gave a shout-out to Sohel and Hammi for their on-campus efforts.

Faculty Engagement – Anne McGrath and Stevie Michaelson

Faculty engagement has been working with Bill Short and Erin Colvin to create a panel of alumni to speak to the incoming class of HEOP first years. Their four-week virtual program includes a final week centered around community and connection, and this is an opportunity for them to hear from some passionate alums. They’ve recruited three AEC members (Sajana, Elizabeth C., Julius) and three other HEOP alumni (Michael Flood, Tabitha Ferrer Flood, Oscar Acevedo).  This may lead to a second panel in the fall program.

The committee is also exploring whether there might be similar ways alumni can be involved as academic or programmatic resources with the First-Year and Sophomore Journeys programs. Depending on circumstances in the fall, the committee may convene a faculty focus group to find out if there are other ways alumni could be useful in these unusual times.

The group also wants to investigate interest among faculty to participate in a zoom lecture series for Laurentians. Joe Keniston's team is working on such a project.  Faculty Engagement will assist if helpful.

Planning to arrange for a faculty presentation for a fall meeting.

New York City Semester – Penn Egbert

Programming has been cancelled due to COVID-19.

By-Laws/Constitution/Vote – Molly Hann

Molly presented proposed revisions to by-laws noting some sections may need to be revisited in the future.  Ed Higgins made a motion to approve by-laws as presented.  Seconded by Ben Ireland.  All in agreement.

Ben Ireland asked why the AEC functions on a different fiscal calendar than the university.  Kim will look into the history of the change (the calendars used to be the same) and whether a change should be considered.

New Business

No new business.

Questions were brought up.  Jennifer Hammer McGee asked about what we might be able to do for students who were not selected for the fall semester in terms of internships, etc.  Kim H. will reach back to the university as to where we may best help.  Elizabeth C. and Cheryl will also ask Jillian in Career Services.

AEC members can be thinking of ways to encourage use of the Laurentian Connection platform especially as it supports generation of internship experiences.  The Experience St. Lawrence Task Force will also be looking at how to generate these kinds of opportunities for the next three semesters.  Hammi Sylla asked if it is possible to get a list of those students not scheduled to be on campus for the fall semester.  Kim H. believes this is possible and will follow-up.  Others echoed the need for internships and skill development opportunities with support from the alumni body. 

Michael Richman shared he had a very positive call from the parent of one the 2020 grad he had contacted. 

Paul Levi suggested putting a call for internships in the next issue of the St. Lawrence Magazine.  The Communications committee will contact Deb Dudley.


The Alma Mater was sung and the meeting was adjourned at 8:56 pm EST by President Sue North.

Notes submitted by Laura Patrick, Secretary.