Alumni Volunteer Connection

A History of Honoring Volunteer Achievement

With over 7,000 alumni volunteering for the Association and the Institute, recognizing outstanding volunteers is a daunting challenge. But this challenge is nothing new, as the history of the Alumni Association awards reflects the difficulty of showcasing a select few from among a population of volunteers that relishes hard work and high achievement.

The current alumni awards began in 1955 when the first Bronze Beaver went to Alf Berle ‘27 and Carole “Cac” Clarke ‘21. In 1968, the Association added Presidential Citations as a way of specifically recognizing the work of alumni groups.

In the late 1970s, the Association realized that the Bronze Beaver and Presidential Citations could not adequately celebrate the contributions of alumni. The Association created a committee to address this challenge and give alumni a more in-depth role in the awards process. The Harold E. Lobdell Award for alumni relations service of special depth over a sustained period and the George Morgan Award for sustained excellence in all aspects of Educational Council activity were first awarded in 1979. The Henry B. Kane Award for exceptional accomplishments in fund-raising was established in 1987. “It became plain that we could not just have the Bronze Beaver and then Presidential Citation to recognize the great things that alumni and groups were doing,” says William Hecht ‘61, executive vice president and CEO of the Association. “In a way, the challenge is still there. When the Bronze Beaver was first awarded in 1955, we had half the number of total alumni and a third of the total volunteers.”

“MIT is a culture of people who have learned to work their tails off,” continues Hecht. “Alumni volunteer because they are deeply committed to MIT. In fact, almost to a person, awards winners are stunned that they’ve even been recognized.”

Hecht’s observations were echoed by 2002 Bronze Beaver winner Manny Ikpo, SM ‘83, who was “absolutely surprised” when he was told of this year’s award and his 1994 Lobdell. “There are some very distinguished people who have received awards,” says Ikpo. “The typical MIT graduate is about finding new ways to do things, taking on challenges and making a difference.”

The awards are a means of highlighting good ideas and effective solutions within the community of volunteers. “When I saw fellow volunteers receive their awards at ALC, it told me that they were doing some superb work, and I looked to learn from them,” acknowledges Ikpo. “I hope that winning shows that the work that I’ve been doing is important, and that it shows others, particularly graduate, African-American and international alumni, that they too can serve, participate and make an impact.”

Alumni Fund Rallies Again

Alumni, graduating seniors, parents and friends have demonstrated once again that they are invested in the Institute, faculty and students.

In a year of tremendous economic and political turbulence, 28,626 alumni, 1,900 friends and 2,720 corporate matching gifts combined to raise an Alumni Fund of $30.02 million, exceeding the dollar goal of $30 million, which was set in September 2001. In fact, this year’s Alumni Fund dollar total represents the third-highest ever.

“I am very pleased that we were able to meet our dollar goal this year, and come closer to meeting our donor goal than we have in recent memory,” observes Greg Moore ‘73, who just completed a two-year term as chairman of the Alumni Fund Board. “I would like to acknowledge the thoughtful and analytical way in which the Fund Board’s Goals Committee approached the process of setting the goals in what proved to be the very challenging year that they anticipated. I would also like to thank Beth Garvin and her amazing staff, all of whom worked extremely hard this year to help bring in the third-largest fund in our history.”

The support of alumni and friends to the annual Alumni Fund is vital to the daily functioning of the Institute, the glue that holds MIT together and propels its mission in the world.

“We depend deeply on the generosity of annual donors who sustain the excellence of MIT’s ongoing work,” says Garvin, managing director of the Alumni Association and director of the Alumni Fund. “All gifts are critical. Annual gifts provide tremendous support for scholarships and fellowships for students and provide much-needed flexibility to the Institute through unrestricted funds. But they also help specific areas, for instance, to help keep lab equipment up to date and make it possible for students to travel to professional conferences. Annual gifts enable us to buy athletic equipment, support the costs of maintaining musical instruments for the concert band, support visiting scholars and artists, or buy books and journal subscriptions. MIT wouldn’t be MIT without this ongoing generosity.”

The largest gift to the Campaign for MIT, in fact, will be the amount that MIT raises in annual giving, which will total about $230 million over the course of the campaign. Since the campaign’s launch, more than 53,000 alumni, faculty, students, parents and friends have taken part.

“Last year, for example, donors of under $100 gave a combined total of nearly $500,000. We would need an additional $15 million in our endowment to produce that income,” Garvin explains.

Over a five-year period, nearly two-thirds of MIT undergraduate alumni will make at least one gift to MIT, as will more than half of the graduate-degree-only alumni. To ensure your gift makes a difference, designate it for whatever program you support, from the crew team to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Get a jump on the next fiscal year and make a gift online today at web.mit.edu/giving/givenow/index.html.

“The most important point is that donors participate in a way that is most meaningful to them,” Garvin says. “If something at MIT changed their lives, or if there is a program or activity that they feel needs and deserves their support, that’s where they should direct their gift.”

The 2002-2003 Board of Directors

The MIT Alumni Association Board of Directors for fiscal year 2003 has announced 11 new volunteers joining this year. The newly constituted board met for the first time in September and will reconvene three more times this fiscal year. The new board, the regional directors and the young alumni representatives are listed below.

Board of Directors
James A. Lash ‘66 president

Paul Rudovsky ‘66 past president

L. Robert Johnson ‘63 past president

Rafael Bras ‘72 vice president
Wilhelmina Fader ‘85 vice president
Sandra W. Morgan, GM ‘83   vice president
Martin Y. Tang, GM ‘72   vice president
Paula J. Olsiewski, CM ‘79   president select
Richard I. Bergman ‘55 chairman, Audit and Budget Committee, member at large
Matthew Haggerty ‘83 chairman, Enterprise Forum Board, member at large
Scott P. Marks ‘68, SM ‘69 chairman, Alumni Fund Board, member at large
Gregory E. Moore ‘73 alumni representative to the MIT Council on Educational Technology, member at large

Regional Directors
Jonathan M. Goldstein ‘83 Boston
Cynthia Helsel Skier ‘74 Boston suburbs
William L. Maini ‘51 New England and upstate New York
Kenneth Wang ‘71 New York City
Marc Chelemer ‘81 Middle Atlantic
Bruce Blanchard ‘57 DC, Virginia and Maryland
Stephen J. Derezinski III ‘90 South and south Atlantic coast
Chiquita V. White ‘85 Midwest
R. Gregory Turner ‘74 Western U.S., central Canada and Mexico
Richard R. Lowe, MCP ‘61 Southern California and Southwest
John D. Chisholm ‘75 Northern California, Pacific Northwest and west Canada

Young Alumni Representatives
Dora Leong Gallo, MCP ‘92
Annalisa L. Weigel ‘94, SM ‘00, PhD ‘02

Alumni Activities Calendar

The Young Alumni Seminar Series begins its second year on October 2 in New York City. Seminars are offered for undergraduate and graduate alumni who have graduated within the last 10 to 15 years. Each Young Alumni Seminar will feature a panel of accomplished alumni speaking on a topic of timely importance. In addition to the alumni who volunteer their time and expertise as panelists, several young alumni in each city work to schedule the event, determine topics and speakers, and serve as hosts for the event. Last year’s series was extremely popular with alumni in New York City, Boston and Washington, DC, with topics that focused on investments, careers and national security. The lineup for 2002-2003, with events in New York, Chicago, southern California and Boston, promises to be even more engaging and informative. For more information about the series, if you have any speaker suggestions, or to become involved as a host in your area, e-mail ldepaoli@mit.edu.

For information on all our events, visit the online calendar at web.mit.edu/alum/explore/calendar/.

Sept. 30 Club of Northern California spotlight event
Oct. 2 Young Alumni Seminar-New York City
Oct. 10 Cardinal and Gray fall luncheon
Oct. 10 - Oct. 12 Sloan School 50th-anniversary celebration
Oct. 15 Club of Boston Seminar Series, Alan Guth
Oct. 18 - Oct. 19 Club of Germany 10th-anniversary events
Oct. 18 - Oct. 20 Family Weekend-MIT campus
Oct. 21 Club of Norway seminar, Jim Lash ‘66, Alumni Association president
Oct. 22 Club of France seminar, Jim Lash ‘66
Oct. 24 Club of Great Britain seminar, Jim Lash ‘66
Nov. 2 MIT On the Road-Detroit
Nov. 4 Young Alumni Seminar-Chicago
Nov. 12 Club of Boston Seminar Series, William Wheaton

Volunteer Job Opportunities

There are lots of interesting ways to become involved as a volunteer on or off campus on behalf of MIT and its alumni. Check out these available opportunities:

Externship sponsor: Bring a bright, hardworking MIT student to your company next January as part of the Student/Alumni Externship Program (January 6-January 31, 2003). If your company is located in the New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco or Boston areas, you can help a student explore a specific career path while raising your company’s visibility on campus. Find out more and submit your application online by September 27 at web.mit.edu/alum/connect/students/externships/index.html.

Reunion committee member: Alumni from classes ending in a 3 or an 8 are needed to serve on event committees and gift committees for 2003 Tech Reunions. If you want to help shape your next class reunion, this is the job for you. Get more information at web.mit.edu/alum/giveback/classvolunteers/.

Online career advisor: ICAN, the Institute Career Assistance Network, needs alumni who are willing to provide one-time or ongoing career advice to other alumni and current students. It’s a great opportunity to share your expertise and experience, and it is also an excellent networking and recruiting tool. Find out more at web.mit.edu/alum/career/ican/.

Volunteers are encouraged to post other opportunities on the Association’s Web site at ans.mit.edu/volunteer_jobs.

Online Class Elections Make Their Mark

The Alumni Association successfully offered online elections for the 2002 reunion classes, the second year an online class ballot was available. Of the 14 reunion classes, seven participated (1962-1987 and 1997), up from two classes in 2001. Complete election results for all classes are posted on the Web at web.mit.edu/alum/connect/classes/elections/fy2002-results.html.

Prior to 2001, only paper ballots were available. Paper ballots, used on campus at reunions, limited the number of classmates who could participate. Online elections enable all classmates to vote.

“E-elections give alumni a chance to have more involvement in their class activities,” says Cynthia Miller Morris, director of reunions. “Alumni who want to serve as a class officer but can’t attend a reunion are able to run for office and vote. Even if all the classmates don’t vote, the e-elections raise awareness of who the class officers are and how to get involved.”

Lucinda Linde ‘82, outgoing president of her class, agrees. “Anything that allows more people to have a say, to be connected, even by voting, will benefit the class,” she says.

During the course of the 2002 reunion-planning year, classes who wanted to participate in online elections solicited nominations from classmates and promoted the online election via e-mail, reunion mailings and at the reunion. Voting took place July 1-12, and results were posted July 15.

The Association has introduced other online ballots in the past few years for the corporation, National Selection Committee and the 2002 senior class. Participation totals improved on prior years when paper ballots were used, with the most dramatic increase coming in the senior class election. Fueled in part by a dramatic tie and an extended voting deadline, the senior class reached a 32 percent participation rate, compared with 12 percent for the Class of 2001’s paper ballot.

The system is not without technical challenges. “The biggest technical challenge is probably keeping our class year data about alumni up to date,” say Rachel Sage, senior technical project manager for Alumni Network Services. “Alumni who have multiple degrees or who didn’t graduate in May might consider themselves a member of one class, while our data shows them as a member of another. We use something called a preferred class year,’ which can be changed by the alumnus,” she says. To ensure eligibility, Sage recommends that alumni check their preferred class year by logging onto the Infinite Connection.

Challenges aside, online class elections have become a valuable part of the reunions program, and Linde has a few suggestions for classes considering e-elections. “Definitely throw nominations open to everyone in the class, because you never know what motivated person will step forward, and they could be a real gift, a real boon,” she says. “There are people who wouldn’t necessarily volunteer to run but obviously through their actions and support of MIT, their time and contributions, have demonstrated that MIT means a lot to them, and all it takes is asking them.”

What’s New on the Web

New features on the Association and MIT Web sites:

Money and finance: With a top management school and economics department, MIT has a wealth of experience in matters relating to money and finance. Find out about it, including why so many MIT engineering undergraduates go to work on Wall Street, in the September/October openDOOR: alumweb.mit.edu/opendoor/.

Designing public memorials: Paul Spreiregen ‘54 was part of the group that created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. In the September “What Matters” column, he describes that experience in the context of how public memorials come about. Read more at alumweb.mit.edu/whatmatters/.

Course materials online: This month, MIT’s OpenCourseWare initiative releases its first set of free course materials on the Web. One hundred MIT courses in fields such as biology, electrical engineering and computer science, physics, and management will be available to the public for free at web.mit.edu/ocw/.

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