The following remarks were given on February 8 by Andy Horne '87, president of the Dartmouth Alumni Club Officers Association, at the opening dinner of Club and Affiliated Group Officers Weekend 2008.
CAGOW usually serves as part seminar, part social gathering, where alumni involved in the Dartmouth alumni club and affiliated groups get together to learn something about how others have succeeded or failed in their respective efforts to form a club or affiliated group, to run a club or group, to sponsor events for local alumni, and to connect with present-day Hanover, while also seeing some friends and enjoying a latest installment of their own personal Dartmouth Experience.
This weekend, we expect, will be no different. But we're going to up the ante a bit.
In case any of you have missed it, being a Dartmouth alum these days brings unexpected challenges. Instead of the traditional questions from the misinformed — “What did you do in the middle of nowhere for 4 years?” or “Is anyone up there sober enough to even to go to class?” —
we now hear, “What is going on with your College?”
Sadly, the frame of reference to which that question applies now includes lawsuits; Wall Street Journal editorials; private and personal advertising campaigns; trustee censures; anonymous funding for legal fees; New Hampshire state legislative initiatives; and arguments over representation, democracy, core values, and free speech.
President Wright doesn't like to hear alumni described as “divided,” so we won't use that word. Perhaps it's fair instead to say we are exhausted — some of us are tired of fighting battles about nonexistent issues, others are tired of not feeling their voice is heard, and still more are just tired of hearing so much negativity about our dear old Dartmouth.
So, this weekend, we're going to skip all that and offer a negativity-free zone. Starting right now, our approach can be summed up in two words: "relentlessly positive." The 2008 CAGOW is all about the unbelievable work that Dartmouth College alumni — all of whom are volunteers, represent virtually every living class, and live all over the world — accomplish every day in their local communities for Dartmouth. We're going to celebrate the Dartmouth alumni clubs and affiliated groups for all the POSITIVE things they accomplish for the College, for fellow alumni, for their communities, and for themselves.
The Dartmouth alumni club system and affiliated group system never seem to garner the attention that the class system does. While casting no aspersions, we hope this weekend provides some insights to change that perception, or at least to let people challenge it without hesitation. Toward this end, let's look at just a few facts, as reflected in the forty-one annual reports submitted by Dartmouth alumni clubs to the Dartmouth Office of Alumni Relations for fiscal year 2007:
- There were 682 officers in 87 Dartmouth alumni clubs, ranging from the Class of 1942 to the Class of 2007.
- There were 370 alumni club events, an average of 6 per club and a 55 percent increase over fiscal year 2006.
- Club events were attended by 15,032 alumni and friends of Dartmouth.
- Clubs ran 29 different community service projects or events around the country.
- Thirty-four Dartmouth alumni clubs published 49 print newsletters and 83 publications in total.
- They mailed out 110,907 hard-copy pieces.
- Club mailings touched 49,506 alumni and families at least once.
- Seven clubs generated monthly enewsletters.
- Clubs made 210 requests to Alumni Relations for communications help of one kind or another.
Alumni Interaction with College – Students
- Forty-one clubs awarded 1,234 book awards to high school students around the country
in fiscal year 2007.
- Alumni conducted 6,385 interviews with prospective students, or 45 percent of the total Dartmouth applicant pool.
- In the last five years, alumni have conducted 33,429 interviews with prospective students, or 52 percent of 64,459 applicants.
- Alumni clubs held 28 welcome parties for incoming first-year students in fiscal year 2007.
- Thirty-five clubs offered scholarship programs, providing aid to 94 Dartmouth students.
- Alumni club scholarship funds currently total more than $25 million.
Alumni Interaction with College – Faculty and Administration
- Eight-one professors and coaches have visited alumni clubs over the years.
- President Wright visited 15 alumni clubs, with 2,133 alumni attending, in fiscal year 2007.
- All told, the president has visited 51 different clubs in 109 events.
- President Wright makes more alumni visits than any other president of an Ivy League college.
My hope is that some of these facts and figures are surprising to many of you. But at the same time I hope they become more of the fabric of alumni discourse and experience at Dartmouth. There's so much good work being done regularly by alumni club and affiliated group volunteers – yet mention of this work seldom finds its way into blogs, letters to editors, newspaper articles, or any of the other places where Dartmouth's alumni activities are debated.
The Executive Committee of the Dartmouth Club Officers Association has concluded that it's about time that we all start talking about the POSITIVES, that is, about the work of the alumni volunteers — all of you — who:
- Make great efforts to know the students at Dartmouth;
- Interview students who want to come to Dartmouth;
- Make Dartmouth professors available to scores of alumni;
- Constantly provide alumni in your area with a local connection to Dartmouth trustees and administrators;
- Perform and encourage community service projects that improve peoples' lives; and
- Invest countless hours to bring Dartmouth alumni together for fun, camaraderie, and enjoyment.
That's what we're going to do tonight and for the next two days. So, be proud of what you do for Dartmouth and enjoy yourselves this weekend.You deserve a celebration.