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Alumni Volunteer Connection

When Bonny Kellermann ‘72 attended her 10th reunion, it was customary for only the 25th, 40th, and 50th reunion classes to present class gifts. Kellermann and her classmates were surprised and impressed when the class of 1977 broke with tradition and presented a fifth reunion gift.

The next day, Kellermann teamed up with classmates Linda Mayeda, Paul Levy, and Steven Henry to begin planning a class gift to be presented at their 15th reunion. As students of the Vietnam War era, social consciousness was a value that resonated with much of her class. “We thought that if we could sponsor Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program projects that had some kind of social benefit, that would be particularly meaningful to our generation of students,” she says.

The result was the Class of 1972 UROP fund. The initial response was so positive the class decided to make it an endowed fund. From its 1986 inception to October 2002, the fund accumulated $186,502 from 415 donors, and it now supports an average of six student projects annually.

Equally impressive is the range of research topics the fund has sponsored. A sampling of recent projects includes research on measuring mutations that cause colon cancer, arsenic mobility in a Bangladeshi aquifer, programmable genotoxins, Parkinson’s disease, and development of a device to aid victims of stroke.

“Periodically we get feedback when a student writes and says how much he or she valued the opportunity to pursue that project because of how meaningful it was,” says Kellermann.

One 2001 recipient wrote to say that her experience had been so positive she had decided to continue the work as a graduate student. And one of the fund’s earliest recipients, Susan E. Murcott ‘90, SM ‘92, is now a lecturer at MIT who continues to collaborate with her UROP professor, Donald R. F. Harleman, SM ‘47, ScD ‘50. “I’m very grateful to UROP, and I’m also grateful that it continues to fund my students,” says Murcott. “I think it’s a great program.”

Building on the success of its UROP fund, the Class of 1972 has since added two additional funds: a scholarship fund in 1989 and a fund for educational innovation in 1997. “Our objective has been to try to provide opportunities that enable people to make gifts in ways that are meaningful to them,” explains Kellermann.

To establish a new project, contact Steve McAlister at 617-452-3895 or stevemca@mit.edu. For a list of current projects, visit http://web.mit.edu/giving/how/class/classprojects.html/.

Focus on Young Alumni

Although a popular image of MIT alumni may be the red-jacketed celebrants of a 50th reunion class enjoying Tech Night at the Pops, a large segment of alumni in their 20s and 30s are becoming increasingly involved with the Alumni Association.

Their involvement is the result of efforts by a committed group of alumni volunteers who are following directives from the Association’s governing boards and the vision and energy of the Association’s staff. From focus groups and surveys to evening seminars and new volunteer opportunities, young MIT alumni are discovering an array of opportunities to connect through the Association to the Institute and each other.

“Our most recent graduates are the lifeblood of the Association,” says Beth Garvin HM, managing director of the Alumni Association. “While we are blessed with tremendous support and involvement from alumni of all ages, we know that connecting our alumni when they are here as students or soon after they graduate is key to cultivating a lifetime of involvement.”

The first step in involving younger alumni was the formation of a Young Alumni Campaign Committee in the  spring of 1999. “As with many of the programs and activities of the Association, alumni volunteers are at the heart of our efforts,” says Garvin. “Our top volunteers saw the need for this focus, and many new volunteers lent the energy to get it off the ground.”

A survey commissioned by the Young Alumni Campaign Committee revealed much about alumni feelings toward the Institute. Sent by e-mail to 8,800 alumni from the classes of 19902000 in December 2000, the survey measured feelings, attitudes, and interests in relation to the Institute and the Association. “From this survey, we began to look at how we could better tailor our programs and volunteer opportunities to meet the interests of recent grads,” says Garvin. “More important, it was the beginning of a very educational dialogue with our young alumni.”

The conversation between the Association and the young-alumni community has continued in earnest. A series of focus groups was held in 20002001 in Boston, New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, and San Francisco. Alumni who had graduated within the previous 10 years and lived in these cities were invited. The Young Alumni Advisory Committee was formed last summer to help the Association focus on relational activities. The Young Alumni Campaign Committee expanded to involve young alumni serving in other volunteer roles, such as class agents. The campaign committee engaged in a phone tree campaign to thank young alumni personally for their support of the Alumni Fund. Clubs, affinity groups, and classes were encouraged to send at least one young-alumni representative to the annual Alumni Leadership Conference.

The results of these outreach efforts has been seen in recent months. Support for the Alumni Fund by younger alumni has increased in the last fiscal year, with many alumni responding to specifically designed and targeted giving opportunities. “We wanted to help younger alumni understand the importance of their support, no matter the size of their gift,” says Garvin. “We worked to illustrate the considerable impact of young-alumni support at the Institute in areas that were important to them.”

Other younger alumni have begun to reconnect with the Institute and the Association by attending events and using Association services. The Young Alumni Evening Seminars, a series of panel discussions featuring successful MIT alumni speaking on topics of interest to younger alumni, has been well received. “We had sellout or near-capacity crowds in New York City, Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC,” says Rosemarie Resnik, director of alumni activities and geographic programs for the Association. “Young alumni attended these events and dozens of young alumni volunteered as hosts and helped cultivate attendance, suggest topics, and secure speakers.”

Improvements and the expansion of the Institute Career Assistance Network, an online database of 2,400 alumni who give career advice and direction, has stimulated increased traffic among younger alumni and students, who have had access to the system since last summer. Other online services, such as the Online Alumni Directory and alumni e-mail lists, have also seen increased use. “All alumni, especially younger alumni, are interested in online services,” says Maggy Bruzelius, director of Alumni Network Services. “But we want to stay ahead of the technology curve for the classes yet to come.”

While the specific direction of young-alumni committees, volunteers, fund-raising campaigns, and events may change in the coming years, one key tenet of this recent young-alumni activity will not be lost on the Association. “We have learned to understand the differences in and interests of the entire spectrum of alumni,” says Garvin. “And we realize that listening to our youngest alumni is an essential investment in our future.”

Aaker to Zywicz: The 2002 Alumni Register

A limited number of the hardback MIT Alumni Register is available for purchase by alumni. The directory includes history, demographic information, and names and addresses for 90,000 MIT alumni.

Alumni information is broken down alphabetically and also by class, department affiliation, and geography. “The Register is a particularly fantastic resource for volunteers as they reach out and track down their constituents and peers,” says Joe Recchio, director of operations for the Association. “Our entire database of names, addresses, class years, and degrees is included in the 2002 Register.”

Thousands of copies have already been sold. (Only alumni are allowed to purchase it.) “I know that many alumni find value and prestige in having the handsome Register on their coffee table or in their bookshelf,” adds Recchio. “As information moves online, and we investigate new forms of electronic media, this will be the last time we sell a printed version of the Register.”

The 2002 MIT Alumni Register is available for $69.95, including shipping and handling. For overseas shipping, the price is $79.95. Additional information and online ordering is available at http://web.mit.edu/alum/merchandise/register.html/.

Alumni may order also by sending their checks to the MIT Alumni Association/Alumni Register, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, W92-280, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Alumni Activities Calendar

Two MIT Parents Association events in California highlight the Alumni Association calendar. Chancellor Phillip Clay, PhD ‘75, will speak to area parents on student life and learning at MIT, as well as answer questions from the parent community. Parents will also have the chance to meet and mingle with other MIT parents in their communities. Other activities and volunteer opportunities offered by the MIT Parents Association include welcoming events for current or prospective students, hosted with MIT alumni clubs around the country, and Family Weekend, held each fall on campus. MIT parents are encouraged to participate in nearby club or alumni events, attend Family Weekend, volunteer as parent connectors, and stay connected to life at the Institute and the alumni community through the MIT Parents Association. For more information about the MIT Parents Association and how you can get more involved, send e-mail to mykidis@mit.edu or visit web.mit.edu/alum/connect/parents/.

For information on the following events and other alumni listings, visit the Association’s Events Calendar online at http://web.mit.edu/alum/.

Jan. 27 Feb. 9 Alumni Travel Program, Antarctica
Feb. 1-8 Alumni Travel Program, Mexico
Feb. 1-8 Alumni Travel Program, Belize and Honduras
Feb.21-Mar. 1 Alumni Travel Program, Amazon
Feb. 25 IBM Corporate Event, Armonk, NY
Feb. 26 Parents Event, Southern California
Feb. 26 Parents Event, Northern California
Feb. 27 Northern California Event, Chancellor Phillip Clay
Mar. 1-7 Alumni Travel Program, Caribbean
Mar. 1 MIT on the Road, San Diego
Mar. 2 Parents Event, Southern California
Mar. 4 Microsoft Corporate Alumni Event, Seattle
Mar. 21-23 Pan-Arab Conference, Dubayy

Reunion 2003: Fifth Reunion Pushes Participation

For its very first reunion, the Class of 1998 has focused on the basics: maximizing participation. The organizers hope to attract more than 200 people, including guests, according to reunion chair Samantha L. Hartemink.

“Our main push for increasing participation is that we’ve tried to get someone from each living group to be the point person for that group of ’98s,” says Hartemink. Living-group volunteers have been contacting their constituents throughout the year and have planned special events for each group. “We’re trying to make it a little more personalized by using the living groups, because from the survey I’ve taken of our committee, people felt that when they were at MIT most of their closest friends were from their living group. People tell me, If I knew these five people were going to be at the reunion, I would definitely go.’”

The committee also encouraged participation early in the planning process by hosting a series of prereunion events. On September 21-in conjunction with the Alumni Leadership Conference at MIT-classmates gathered in cities across the country, including Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Committee member Sarah E. Jatko ‘98 worked with classmates in each host city to plan the events, which attracted as many as 25 attendees in Boston and San Francisco.

Hartemink says the committee carefully chose reunion events that would appeal to their class. “A lot of the activities that we’ve been focusing on are like reliving senior year at MIT, so I think people are excited about that,” she says. Highlights of the reunion include living-group events, a reception at the new Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, a Pub Crawl of Nostalgia, and a presentation by classmate Sami S. Busch about his world travels as part of a classic car rally.

“We’re really trying to plan all our events to be lower-cost events so that people can go to more things. And there will be more relaxed events so that people can just hang out, chat, and hear what people’s lives are like now,” says Hartemink.

Like other classes, the Class of 1998 will be able to gauge the effectiveness of its planning when registration begins in mid-March for the June 69 weekend. For information about reunions, visit http://web.mit.edu/alum/connect/reunions/,  contact the staff at 617-253-8824, or send e-mail to reunions@mit.edu/.

What’s New on the Web

Find out what’s new and interesting on the Web this month.

Energy: In the context of increased political uncertainty and war in the Middle East that could disrupt oil supplies and drastically inflate prices of petroleum products, the January/February issue of openDOOR examines new energy initiatives and research at MIT. Among the issues considered are novel approaches to conservation, exploration for new energy sources and technologies, and innovative approaches to energy alternatives. Read all about it online at alumweb.mit.edu/opendoor/.

New on MIT World: MIT World brings you streaming video of recent events from around the Institute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Recent events of interest include a conversation with Michael Dell; Lou Gerstner, chair of IBM, on “The Networked World”; MIT Libraries’ launch of DSpace, a groundbreaking digital library repository; and recent authors@mit events, such as Professor Steven Pinker’s talk on his new book, The Blank State, and cybercritic Howard Rheingold speaking about Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. View all these and more at http://mit.edu/mitworld/. Join the MIT World mailing list to keep informed about the latest video content of lectures, speeches, symposia, and all things MIT at http://mit.edu/mitworld/mainsite/contact.html#mailinglist/.

Evolving Campus: News about the array of campus construction and renovation projects can be seen on the frequently updated Evolving MIT Campus Web site, http://web.mit.edu/evolving/.

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