Alumni Executive Council Virtual Business Meeting
January 29, 2022
President Sue North called the meeting to order at 10:05 am EST.
Following roll call by Secretary Laura Patrick, a quorum was documented.
Present: Baucom, Bennett, Borden, Boyer, Cassidy, Cochran, Colton, Colucci, Cruickshank, Danielson, DeCamp, Francis, Frank, Friedlander, Gross, Hann, Higgins, Kallet, Kelly, Lancaster, Larrabee, Lloyd, Martin, McGee, McManus, McSweeney, Merrell, North, Patrick, Richman, Russell, D. Ryan, M. Ryan, Slater, Smith, Wells, Wieland, Wilson
Not Present: Abernethy, Bates, Bickford, Blank, Byrne, Chung, Egbert, Giles, Glass, Green, Ireland, Jenkins, Johnson, Levi, MacKenzie, Reyes, Santini, Stern, Willis, Zonitch
A motion to approve the 23 October 2021 Business Meeting minutes was made by Cheryl Gross and seconded by Carol Lancaster. No opposed, minutes approved.
President’s Report – Sue North
President North began her report by expressing her disappointment at not being on campus and shared that the Board of Trustees had also canceled their Canton meeting as well. All understandable given the current environment. The officers are working to convert two to three of the planned sessions to a virtual format. She urged everyone to stay involved and connected as we look forward to being in-person at Canaras in June. Career Conversations is coming up and is a great opportunity to chat with students. Admissions will be sending out contact information soon for our accepted student note writing effort. Those who have volunteered should be in receipt of the newly designed note cards. The Admissions office continues to believe that these notes really do make a difference. Sue expressed optimism at our being able to be together at Canaras this June. Officers will begin planning for the coming year. The annual survey will be sent out soon to assist with program planning and committee and chair assignments. Doug Smith asked if dates for Canaras are known. Kim H. shared that Canaras would be June 9-12, 2022. (Reunion Weekend June 2-5, 2022; Commencement May 21, 2022)
Michael Richman mentioned flights from JFK provided by Cape Air into the Adirondack Airport (Saranac Lake, NY). His understanding is that a flight runs daily at 12:55pm with a retuning flight in the afternoon.
Campus Report – Kim Hissong
- Spring semester was off to a fairly good start as student arrivals showed just 27 positive COVID tests (with an additional 9 for staff). Students were required to test prior to arrival and to test again (rapid antigen) once on campus. Since the start of the semester, cases have already dropped to 16 and 4, respectively. The University has also made receiving a booster shot part of its requirements for students and employees. With the reduction in quarantine time from 10 to five days, Res Life is making every effort to offer quarantine space on-campus. Previously, those living closer to campus have been sent home to quarantine. COVID cases within St. Lawrence County remain high with the county in a state of emergency through at least early February.
- St. Lawrence is in its first year of fundraising following the most successful campaign in the school’s history. The focus now is to have donors continue to pay against their pledges while maintaining annual support for the SLU Fund. As expected, new gifts and commitments (revenue) is down (34%) and operating cash is up as payments come in. Alumni donors were up 2% thanks in great part to the successful “Here We Go, Saints” athletic giving days and to efforts through the “Calling All Saints” program with student solicitors. The 1856-Minute Challenge is scheduled for April 12-13, 2022 with a theme supporting scholarship. More details will be forthcoming.
- The Office of Laurentian Engagement is working to offer on-line courses to alumni with topics focused on personal growth. These will be offered at no cost via St. Lawrence’s membership in the Alumni Learning Consortium. The first course based on “habits” has had an overwhelming response with 340 registrants to date. These courses are taught by non-SLU experts. Laurentian Engagement will also be looking at creating additional learning opportunities utilizing our own faculty and alumni.
Sally McSweeney asked about the possibility of a March on-campus meeting. Kim shared that with mixed survey responses from AEC members and input from the University, an on-campus meeting would not be possible.
Mary Baucom asked for a link for the on-line courses: alumic.thinkific.com/courses/habits-stlawu
Student Delegate Report – Brianna Larrabee, Teal Borden, Alex Reyes, Jack Cruickshank
Brianna shared that the semester has been off to a cold start with some reports of pipes bursting, but with quick response by facilities employees. She is excited about returning to in-person classes and activities.
Jack mentioned he and his roommates experienced the result of burst pipes from the laundry room next to their townhouse having returned at an undisclosed hour to a soggy rug in their common room. Again, facilities responded in a timely manner. Alex Reyes, who had to miss today’s call, is Thelmo’s new president-elect. He asked Jack to let us know he continues to work with a committee to hire a new Title IX Coordinator. His focus as Thelmo president will be to work with minority clubs on budgeting and on D&I initiatives within student organizations such as the Outing Club, ACE, and theme houses.
JR O’Connor has left SLU. He was the Assistant Dean of Student Life and Director of Student Activities & Leadership. He has accepted a new role at the University of Southern Maine. Jack expressed how much he will be missed. The University is looking to fill this vacancy.
Winter sports teams are off to a good start with both women and men’s basketball teams on their way to winning seasons and with the women’s hockey team posting wins in their last four games. Men’s hockey has not fared as well with 6 out of 8 losses. The squash teams are also showing strong starts.
As her student colleagues shared much of what’s going on since the semester started, Teal expressed their appreciation for the decisions that council has had to make with regard to on-campus meetings, but regrets that they haven’t been able to spend that time with us. She also reiterated that as a Senior Admissions Fellow, she sees the impact of the personal admissions notes sent by AEC and alumni volunteers.
Treasurer’s Report/Finance & Resources Committee – Paul Danielson
As a reminder, the AEC fiscal year runs January 1 – December 31. 2021’s budget was $44,150, with expenditures coming in at $11,267 leaving $33,064 unspent. The underrun was due to program cancellations and reductions as a result of COVID. As evidenced by the 2022 Budget (approved 10/23/2021), we continue to budget beyond our funding. We will need to address this especially as spending levels come back up. Ending cash for 2021 was $58,265. The 2022 year will start with this and will increase to $88,265 with $30,000 funding from the University. In the short term, this puts us in very good shape. The budgeting overruns will be addressed, at least in part, by the two AEC endowment funds and by the reintroduction of the auction.
Current endowment fund balances: Internship $352,922 and Power of Connections $181,717
Mike Kallet shared an update re: The Power of Connections Endowment Fund. The task force hopes to conclude fundraising efforts by 6/30/22 with an objective of $250,000. Mike is optimistic that this goal will be reached.
As a reminder, distributions from the endowment funds is 5% of balances as of March 31 of each year.
Diversity & Inclusion (Task Force) – Samantha Colton
Sam reported that the task force continues to work with the other committees in the creation of their own D&I statements. D&I has been working with Victoria Lederer to identify new opportunities for programming. Updates to follow.
Admissions – Sarah Wieland
Admissions note writing is the primary focus right now. The AEC will be trying to reach 500+ admitted students this winter/spring. Chelsea L. asked about the timing of the notes. We should be receiving the first batch of targeted students in February followed by a second in early to mid-March. There may also be a set of 200 “priority” students. In addition to AEC volunteers, Admissions has also reached out to past AEC presidents, alumni groups, and former CA’s and admissions ambassadors to assist in this effort. Sarah thanked everyone in advance for their help.
Advancement & Engagement – Carol Lancaster, Sally McSweeney and Randy Wilson
Randy shared the following:
- Looking to leverage the success of targeted athletic giving campaign by looking at interest groups and area of need around campus on which to focus upcoming fundraising efforts.
- The committee continues to look at developing programming focused on entrepreneurial experiences of alumni.
- As COVID restrictions begin to relax (again), looking to increase in-person events
- Continuing to investigate alternatives to graduation gift (pin) to something that will have more impact / be more useful. Depending on pricing, this could be an SLU/AEC branded water bottle.
Laura P. asked about guidelines for regional events citing the recent NYC viewing party as being expensive at $50/head. Many of these events are planned by alum, but want to ensure accessibility. Sue reiterated her support of a sliding fee scale to help younger alum attend these events.
Communications & Marketing – Mary Baucom and Molly Ryan
Mary confirmed that the St. Lawrence Magazine will not be published for its Winter edition. This is due to an industry-wide paper shortage. Deborah Dudley is ramping up for a robust Spring issue with a theme of wellness. This will be a March/April publication with prominent AEC placement.
Molly reminded committees that they are welcome to reach out to the committee for assistance with getting the word out on their planned programming.
Membership & Honors – Molly Hann and Ed Higgins
Molly shared new member invitations as well as Alumni Citation and the Sol Feinstone Award recipients
Three new confirmed members:
Group I (had 1 opening to fill): Tracy Kay ’75, P’13 – Stamford, CT – CEO of The Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens
Group IV (have 1 opening to fill): Working to confirm a new Group IV member. An invite has been extended.
Group V (had 2 openings to fill): Abdulla Zaid ’13 – Bedford, MA – Senior Economist – Applied Research at Burgiss AND
Lexi Williams ’15 – Philadelphia, PA - Manager, Diversity and Impact, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment
Confirmed four alumni citation award winners and one Sol Feinstone Humanitarian Award winner for Reunion 2022:
Dr. Bill Van Wie ’67 – Houston, TX - Retired Senior Vice President, Exploration at Devon Energy Corporation – being honored for his career in the oil and gas industry and his ongoing involvement and engagement with the SLU Geology department as an alumnus.
Barbarajean “BJ” Schaefer Blodgett ’72 – Falls Church, VA – Retired Fine Arts Teacher from the Watertown City School District – devoted member of the class of ’72 – class reporter for close to 40 years, member of every reunion committee, and a tireless advocate for education.
Jeff Spafford ’88 – Windermere, FL – President and CEO of AssistRx, Inc. – dedicated his career to technological advancements in the pharmaceutical industry and access to affordable medication to those in need
Dr. Wambui Mutoru ’06 – Houston, TX – Commercial Development at Equinor – where she is helping to generate energy to power world economies. Wambui has served her alma mater as a LINC mentor and Laurentians in Residence participant.
Dr. Ted Higgins ’71 – Mission Hills, KS – Ted leads a life of service and embodies the spirit of the Sol Feinstone Humanitarian Award. Perhaps this is most vividly seen through the Higgins Brothers Surgicenter for Hope that he established and opened in Haiti in 2016. The goal of the major surgical center is to provide the people of Haiti, who have limited surgical options, access to free and/or affordable medical care.
Student Services – Elizabeth Colucci and Cheryl Gross
The Holiday Meal Program was a success. The AEC helped provide meals to 43 students who remained on campus during the winter break. Personal notes were sent to students – thank you to 23 AEC volunteers. Meals were provided by the Best Western and Sergi’s. Contributions also supported the food pantry for the purchase of fresh vegetables and meats for students preparing meals. The AEC was also able to provide gifts of SLU knit pom-pom hats and fanny packs filled with goodies. Students expressed their appreciation.
Sophomore Boot Camp was held January 15-17, 2022. This year it was a combination remote and in-person event. Participation was down from 2020 (in-person), but up from last year.
Career Conversations is coming up, with 31 AEC members who have volunteered and 71 students registering for the event. Dates are February 14-18 and February 21-25.
The LINC program for 2022 launched on Thursday 1/27.
The committee will be looking at alternatives for the International Tea that was originally planned for the Winter meeting.
Student Services wants to recognize the student EMS workers and volunteer “runners” who helped make the move back to campus a success as they assisted with COVID testing and students in quarantine.
TASK FORCE REPORTS:
Affinities & Affiliations – Brian Abernethy and Mike Santini
Auction – Paige Friedlander
Paige stated that the task force is on track to offer a reduced version of the auction this fall. Given the continuing uncertainty of an in-person event, a scaled down version will allow for testing of the platform and will help understand engagement (students, parents, alumni). More information will be forthcoming. Paige thanked all for their recent survey responses.
Faculty Engagement – Anne McGrath McManus
Anne reported that she had an enthusiastic response from faculty for the planned dinner and presentation by the Fed Challenge leaders (Cynthia Bansak and Jolly Zhang). The task force continues to work with Joe Keniston to bring faculty presentations to the alumni community via Laurentians Learn. The latest offered was by Precious Hall (Government) – Bridging the Divide: Understanding Differences in Public Opinion. Laurentian Learns recordings are available here: https://www.stlawu.edu/offices/alumni/learn-and-connect/laurentians-learn-series
Faculty Engagement continues to look for opportunities to support faculty who want to bring alumni experts into their classrooms. In particular, they are currently looking for engineering and public health professionals for future panels. If you work in one of these fields or know someone who does, please pass names onto Anne McManus.
New York City Semester – Penn Egbert
President North made a request for new business. No new business.
All joined in singing the Alma Mater with help from a recording by the Laurentian Singers.
Motion to adjourn was offered by Doug Smith and seconded by Randy Wilson. The meeting was adjourned at 11:21 am EST by President Sue North.
Notes submitted by Laura Patrick, Secretary.