Alumni Executive Council Virtual Business Meeting
October 23, 2021
President Sue North called the meeting to order at 10:02 am EST.
Following roll call by Secretary Laura Patrick, a quorum was documented.
Present: Bates, Baucom, Bennett, Boyer, Cassidy, Chung, Cochran, Colton, Colucci, Cruickshank, Danielson, DeCamp, Egbert, Francis, Friedlander, Giles, Green, Gross, Hann, Higgins, Jenkins, Johnson, Kallet, Kelly, Lancaster, Larrabee, Levi, Lloyd, Martin, McGee, McManus, Merrell, North, Patrick, Reyes, Russell, D. Ryan, M. Ryan, Smith, Stern, Wells, Wieland, Willis, Wilson, Zonitch
Not Present: Abernethy, Bickford, Blank, Borden, Byrne, Frank, Glass, Ireland, MacKenzie, McSweeney, Richman, Russell, Santini, Slater
A motion to approve the 12 June 2021 Business Meeting minutes was made by Cheryl Gross and seconded by Chelsea Lloyd. All approved.
President’s Report – Sue North
The Board of Trustees met on campus this past weekend. President Morris shared five personal and institutional goals she has identified as she begins her new role:
- Institutional Transition (from campaign completion, new presidency, Experience St. Lawrence Task Force, Lisa Cania’s retirement – Title IX, etc.)
- Future focus
- Active initiatives
- Professional development
President Morris will be sharing her vision / future focus as it continues to develop.
The Board of Trustees meeting included strategic sessions addressing campus climate. Two panels consisting of students, faculty, and staff were presented. They addressed the mental health concerns of the community and the University’s response.
Campus has seen increased incidents concerning mental health. Historically, it has been more prevalent with the first year class, but is now increasing with sophomores. The impact of COVID is felt across campus (upper classes, faculty and staff). The University’s response will be to increase focus on health and wellness initiatives such as The Jed Foundation, a task force on sexual awareness (Scott Giles has
been involved with this group’s work and recommendations). Student organizations (J-Board) are also working with the University to move from punitive to restorative justice in addressing incidents.
Scott Giles mentioned that the sexual awareness task force has issued a report. He stated that the group is not an official entity. President Morris will be reviewing the report. Scott will circulate the document if desired.
Anne Cassidy asked about the group that gathered recently outside the President’s house. This was in reaction to a reported sexual assault. The University is taking the matter of the current climate regarding this topic very seriously and working to address all concerns. See more under Campus Report.
Sue shared the newly revised AEC Mission Statement. New language was developed using feedback from the summer meeting’s session with Paul Redfern and recommendations from Dave Boyer. The officers took that input and, with assistance from Kim Hissong and Joe Keniston, developed the new statement:
The Alumni Executive Council (AEC) promotes the mission of the University through programming that enhances St. Lawrence's reputation, strengthens connections between generations, and leverages the power of our alumni network to benefit every Laurentian.
Sue asked anyone who may have comments to send their feedback via e-mail. Immediate reaction was positive.
Chelsea Lloyd then shared the newly developed AEC Diversity Statement developed by the D&I Task Force with input from Kimberly Flint-Hamilton and the officers:
The St. Lawrence University Alumni Executive Council is committed to listen and learn from one another. We hold ourselves accountable to best serve St. Lawrence’s community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and beyond. In support of the University’s Statement on Diversity, we strive to be a community that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, embracing the rich diversity that our members bring to us, including socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, national identity, ability, and more—a community which reflects the ever-evolving diversity of St. Lawrence student and alumni bodies. Diversity, equity and inclusion will be a core pillar of the work that we do as AEC, connecting all Laurentians embracing respect for human differences and qualities in all forms.
Campus Report – Kim Hissong
1) COVID news is positive. After an uptick in cases on campus, the SLU community has responded well and the COVID operating status has dropped to YELLOW – moderate risk. Cases in St. Lawrence County continue to be high. Travel off-campus is still limited locally, although staff travel and regional events are opening back up (11/19 Princeton hockey game event, 12/3 Greenwich, CT presidential event).
2) Athletic Donor Challenge: Inaugural event went well. This was an effort to leverage team affiliations and was successful in “moving the needle.” 44% of gifts paid Apple Pay, Venmo, etc. 1,456 donors raised $370,530.
3) Challenges regarding Sexual Assault / Misconduct: President Morris has been extremely responsive in addressing issues. A memorandum was sent to the campus community in response to the gathering of students at the President’s House during which concern over policies and procedures for reporting incidents was expressed. Kate brings leadership experience regarding these issues from her previous role at Butler University. This past week, she hosted an open forum that lasted three hours giving the campus community the opportunity to share concerns. Purple Week coming up will host events addressing domestic violence, sexual assault (Take Back the Night). Kim thanked Scott Giles for his participation on the recent task force.
Samantha Colton and Charlotte Chung asked about specific efforts on-campus to deal with concerns directly. The response will continue to focus on awareness and sensitivity training across campus, J-Board response for handling incidents, as well as Title IX requirements. Scott Giles offered that half of the response will be related to prevention through education and cultural change and half will be focused on response. He added that there are staffing implications as to how to navigate these efforts and it’s anticipated this will be part of the discussion with Kate Morris when reviewing task force findings.
Student Delegate Report – Brianna Larrabee, Teal Borden, Alex Reyes, Jack Cruickshank
Jack gave a quick review of the semester to date. Orientation Week went well. Orientation Leaders had an intense week of training (including Title IX) prior to first year’s arrival on campus. There was a small number of COVID cases during first year move-in followed by a spike in student cases once all returned. This was concerning and students fell into three camps re: the University’s response. Approximately 1/3 of students felt the response was “not enough”, 1/3 felt it was “too much”, and 1/3 felt it was “just right.” Once Family Weekend was completed, it’s been “smooth sailing” with students continuing to take advantage of outside activities.
Brianna provided an update on campus events.
- An in-person club fair was held outside. Good attendance by first year and sophomore classes in particular
- Falls sports (and now beginning winter sports) started to feel like more normal seasons
- Fall Fest was held aided by separation of groups for concert attendance; students were able to socialize with COVID protocols in place
- Student body received notice via e-mail of a reported on-campus sexual assault prompting the reaction previously discussed in Kim’s campus update (gathering outside President’s House, Purple Week, calls for additional training and awareness programming)
- Food provided by Dining Services is getting good reviews. Students have enjoyed theme dinners like Canadian Thanksgiving and the Adirondack Dinner. Lines at Dana are long. The Pub has a new app for ordering in advance. Staffing continues to be short potentially due to vaccine requirements.
Alex’s update focused on items covered in the latest Thelmo meeting. A scholarship has been established focused on offering minority students opportunities to participate in and learn about outdoor activities. Recent and planned on-campus events include a Halloween Costume party as well as hockey games at Appleton Arena. Also discussed were efforts focused on education about and prevention of sexual assault/domestic violence. Alex mentioned the Advocates program which addresses domestic violence. The focus is in providing intervention training and to raise awareness on campus thereby reducing these types of situations.
Questions: Meca Francis asked about satellite locations open for dining. The Spartacus Café at Douglas Hall is open with a new menu. The Johnson Grab-n-Go is open when possible. Pub 56 is open and the Time Out Café at Newell Field House is open.
Treasurer’s Report/Finance & Resources Committee – Paul Danielson
Paul thanked his committee for all their work on the 2022 budget. He then presented the proposed 2022 Budget. Of note, expenses are down as programming has been cancelled throughout the year due to the pandemic. Available cash stands at $90,155.36. Expenditures of $48,150 have been approved for 2022. We continue to budget in excess of our annual revenue (provided by the University) of $30,000. The expectation is that the Auction, once re-launched, will help increase revenue and funds generated by the Power of Connections Endowment Fund will help reduce programming funded out of the AEC budget directly.
The Auction Task Force is planning on a re-launch in Fall 2022. The Power of Connections Fund currently stands at $166,447. Gary Zonitch shared that the funding we receive from our endowment funds is determined by the balances held at the end of March each year.
Mike Kallet stated that the goal is to have Power of Connections reach $250,000 by June 2022. The link for donating to the fund is alumni.stlawu.edu/aecpowerofconnections.
Ed Higgins asked when we expect to receive the funding ($30K) from the University. Paul Danielson shared we typically receive the funds in October of the current budget year. This has never created an issue for council and Paul fully expects our funding will be provided.
With no other questions, Paul asked for a motion to approve the 2022 Budget. Cheryl Gross motioned to approve and Ed Higgins seconded. No opposed, no abstentions. Budget approved.
Admissions – Scott Giles
Sarah and Scott met with Florence Hines, Joe Keniston, and Kim Hissong to discuss the note writing program to admitted students. The committee is trying to expand the alumni volunteer base to increase the reach of the program. Admissions has found that this personal touch is very important to admitted students. The goal is to reach 250-300 volunteers to increase the reach to include every admitted student. They discussed the opportunity to engage with the Communications Committee to help in this effort. In particular, the focus will be on recruitment from more recent graduations years. The result will be two-fold: the reach to admitted students will increase as well as improve alumni engagement of these younger graduates.
Advancement & Engagement – Carol Lancaster, Sally McSweeney and Randy Wilson
Randy mentioned that some events that were being planned for October had to be cancelled due to the uptick in COVID. The committee is working on a fun event for November 18 as part of our virtual fall meeting series – stay tuned! Engagement has been working with Student Services to hand off the International Tea event slated for our Winter Meeting at the end of January.
Communications & Marketing – Mary Baucom and Molly Ryan
Mary shared that the AEC entry for the winter St. Lawrence Magazine is focused on what responding council members have been doing to stay connected. When you see the article, you’ll also notice that we have received more space in the magazine than in the recent past!
Membership & Honors – Molly Hann and Ed Higgins
Molly thanked everyone for their recent nominations. There are at least three membership openings for this coming year, perhaps more. Braulio Acuria has resigned from council as he has accepted a position working for St. Lawrence as part of the Admissions staff. He will be based in New York City. Nominations are also now open for Alumni Citations and the Sol Feinstone Award. If you have someone you’d like to nominate, please do so. Molly thanked those who have submitted nominations already.
Ed addressed M&H efforts around reviewing term extensions for all members of the AEC. (This question was brought up during the June Business Meeting.) He reviewed reasons the extension was considered and adopted for the current officers. The focus was on continuity of leadership. Extensions have also been granted to those whose membership terms are expiring, but who have previously expressed interest in holding an office (this was offered to five individuals). M & H evaluated the possibility of a general term extension looking at the impact on continuity of leadership and the organizational need to continue to bring in “new blood” to council. Based on discussions around these areas, M & H does not support an all-member extension.
Student Services – Elizabeth Colucci and Cheryl Gross
SLU Connect programming has returned on a remote basis. Four programs ran this fall:
- Business & Finance
- Communications & Media
- Health & Research Careers
- Government, Law & Social Impact
Participants across the programs included 20 alumni and 86 students.
Planning for the International Tea is underway. This will occur when we are on campus for our Winter Meeting. The committee is also looking at ways to expand this format to other affinity groups on campus. The holiday program helping to provide meals and some cheer to those students who must remain on campus over the break is taking shape. Still waiting for a final count on the number of students, but it will most likely be less than last year. The committee is looking for council to provide two dinners, a donation to the food pantry, a small gift from the AEC and hand written greetings from council members.
The LINC program will be kicking off in January (while we’re on campus). Program volunteers will be receiving information as the date approaches. As in the past, the program is open to sophomores and juniors who did not have a previous opportunity. It will also be extended to first years in Career 101. More information will also be forthcoming with regard to Career Conversations.
TASK FORCE REPORTS:
Affinities & Affiliations – Brian Abernethy and Mike Santini
Auction – Paige Friedlander and Gary Zonitch
Paige reported that they are still targeting Laurentian (Family Weekend / Homecoming combination) for the re-launch of the AEC auction. A survey will be going out within the next week to the AEC regarding how members would like to engage with this program.
Diversity & Inclusion – Sajana Blank and Samantha Colton
Sam reported that the task force met earlier in the week. Now that the AEC Diversity Statement has been established, the group will work with committees in developing their own, focused statements.
Faculty Engagement – Anne McGrath McManus
Anne updated on the AEC co-sponsored Laurentians Learn series. They have been working with Joe Keniston and his team to bring on-line lectures to the alumni community. The next one is scheduled for 12/2 with Chemistry professor Adam Hill. If you are interested in being an AEC moderator for an upcoming session, please reach out to Anne. Anne also reported positive feedback from faculty working with the Fed Challenge with regard to alumni involvement in the classroom. This is something Faculty Engagement has been working to expand.
New York City Semester – Penn Egbert
A small event was held at The Cornell Club giving the nine participating students an opportunity to introduce themselves and to meet some alumni (23 in attendance). The event was scaled down to accommodate city and club COVID protocols.
President North made a request for new business. The next AEC meeting is scheduled to be held January 27 – 29th. The deadline for making hotel arrangements is 11/10/21.
All joined in singing Alma Mater with help from a recording by the Laurentian Singers.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 am EST by President Sue North.
Notes submitted by Laura Patrick, Secretary.