Establishment of Alumni College at Drew

  • Under the leadership of Richard Rice and Lawrence Morris, CAA president and vice-president, the College Alumni Association engaged in an extensive planning process during 2001/2002. Among the goals identified by the CAA was establishment of an Alumni College that would fulfill the CAA’s goal to encourage lifelong learning.
  • An Alumni College Task Force was established under the leadership of Beth Alger and Linda Connors. The Task Force developed an alumni college model for Drew, secured the support of CLA Dean Paolo Cucchi and University President Tom Kean, and recruited faculty and alumni to serve on an Interim Alumni College Advisory Board.
  • The Interim Board accomplished its charge of drafting a charter for the Alumni College Advisory Board (ACAB) in December 2003. All members agreed to continue on the permanent Advisory Board with Linda Connors as chair. The Advisory Board, composed of faculty and alumni, is responsible for developing programming for Alumni College.

 

Alumni College at Reunion

  • Alumni College was officially inaugurated at Reunion 2003 as part of the celebration of the College’s 75th Anniversary. Several Alumni College presentations were offered.
  • Reunion 2004-Reunion 2006:  A wide spectrum of lectures and discussion sessions was offered with nine or more distinct sessions. Alumni and faculty response was positive.
  • Reunion 2007- to present:  Five AC sessions are offered each year. A number of presentations have paired senior and junior faculty with considerable success.

 

Additional programming on campus

  • Following up on Sandy Lascari’s suggestion, ACAB launched a series of programs in spring 2007 under the rubric, “An Evening at Drew with…” Most programs were well-attended although ample and sometimes innovative publicity is crucial. Among the more successful programs:  Sara Webb on threats to the Drew Forest; Bob Fenstermacher on How Things Work, Nuclear Energy; panel discussion on the 2008 U.S. presidential election. In February 2009 ACAB co-sponsored four programs occasioned by the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech at Drew. Our goal is to have two presentations each semester.
  • Several presentations have been done in conjunction with productions at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey: Frank Occhiogrosso on Shakespeare (Hamlet and Taming of the Shrew) and Lillie Edwards on To Kill a Mockingbird.

 

Regional Alumni College programming

  • Successful programs in conjunction with regional Drew clubs in New York City, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Programs are considered successful if they engage alumni who are not otherwise involved and the attendance is at least the same as at regular club events. Among the more popular programs:  panel discussions on U.S. presidential elections and museum exhibitions with a Drew art historian.

 

Travel programs

  • Jefferson’s Monticello, fall 2005, Newport, R.I., fall 2006, Williamsburg, spring 2009. Drew’s three trips were very well received but none managed to break even financially. Trips to Rome (2006) and Iceland (2007) were planned but undersubscribed and canceled. Whether educational travel should be a component of Drew’s Alumni College programming remains to be determined.

 

Alumni College today

  • Drew’s Alumni College model of faculty presentations during Reunion, additional programming during the academic year at Drew, and programs in conjunction with regional alumni clubs has been successful. The programs have been well-received and the attendance has grown. The challenge is to keep these programs vital and to develop additional kinds of programming.
  • Much of our success can be attributed to faculty involvement on the Advisory Board. The faculty members know the topics likely to be of interest and, more importantly, know their colleagues. But the Drew faculty has changed greatly in recent years and we need to involve the newer faculty in ACAB and strengthen the connection between Alumni College and the faculty.
  • ACAB needs to recruit additional alumni members. Alumni College began as an initiative of the College Alumni Association and the connection to the CAA should be strengthened.
  • Preliminary discussions are underway to coordinate more fully with the Theological School and Caspersen School to broaden the range of offerings to all alumni of the University.

 

Linda Connors C’64

February 2012