Jul 13

The Power of Alumni Engagement

Champlain College Reaches 2000 Alumni Gifts

I’ve been remiss. I haven’t updated people on how the #2k42m campaign ended up. I blame summer.

But, I think by the image above you know how we did.  For the first time in Champlain History we had 2000+ alumni give to the institution in one campaign.

In my earlier post asking for Alumni to support #2k42m I wrote about how important an active alumni network is to a college, and how for Champlain this is a sign we are growing up from where we started.

This is a thank you to all the alum who donated to the #2k42m.  Faculty and Staff at Champlain are responsible for building the campus, for creating the curriculum, for getting students ready for the next phase of their life. Alumni are responsible for helping the college to grow in many other ways.  Active alumni organizations can (and should):

  • Network where they live and work to tell the story of Champlain. Like our Colorado Alumni Group
  • Offer internships (like this awesome one at Alchemy and Science) to current students.
  • Fund scholarships for current students.
  • Encourage families you know to consider Champlain as an education destination for their college-bound students.
  • Push us (Faculty, Staff, Administration) to stay current so you can continue to feel pride in Champlain.
  • Come up with new and interesting ways to fundraise and help us move from being so reliant on tuition.

I’m sure there are more reasons than this, but I’m here to ask you to consider the many different ways you can stay connected to Champlain. How you can help us continue to grow and be a college of distinction at a time when many are questioning the value of a college education?  As Champlain Vice President Chuck Maniscalco wrote in a recent post about how Students Rate Higher Education on his blog, Champlain is getting many things right if you consider recommendations from outside sources like McKinsey. Alumni support will help us to keep getting things right.

So while this post is a thank you, it is also a challenge to all of you who gave even just ONE DOLLAR. Don’t stop there.

How about next year you give two dollars? Or consider an ongoing gift of $5 per year. Or even $5 per month.  If a group of you did that, imagine how that would help your Alma Mater?

And yes, I know many recent grads are paying back student loans for the cost of getting your education and you might feel that you paid enough, why give even more?  My answer to that is simple. Because your tuition helped us to maintain what we were doing at that time. It paid my salary, it kept the lights on, it kept you fed, it helped Student Life provide programming for you, it helped grow our campus. But donations from you now will help us move beyond that. If we are to compete and stay relevant we must move away from being tuition dependent. One downturn in applications can have a huge negative impact on what we do every day. More ongoing and consistent donations from you will ensure we can continue our mission.

What do you say alumni? Can you keep the momentum going?


May 13

Oh the places we will go! But we can’t do it without YOU!

happy lolcat

I love this time of year. And yes, in good part because it is summer. But also because we have wrapped up another academic year, a group of students has graduated and are making their way in this world, and we now spend time looking back, reflecting on what went well, and what we can do better looking forward.

As an institution of higher learning, Champlain College has been described as agile, nimble, forward thinking, and innovative. For a small, private college in one of the most rural states in the nation, we are the little college that could. We have literally come a long way, from humble beginnings in 1878 as “Burlington Collegiate Institute”  housed at one time above what is now Nectars, to our current home in the hill section of Burlington.  We’ve gone from offering Associate’s Degrees in fields such as Secretarial Science to Fashion Merchandising and Court Reporting to now having numerous Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees (both traditional and online)  in fields ranging from Marketing (my personal favorite of course) to Game Development, Early Childhood Education, Digital Forensics and Environmental Policy. We have campuses in Dublin and Montreal. We are ranked in Princeton Review’s 377 Best Colleges and in US News and World Report’s Best Comprehensive Colleges in the North. Read more about our awesome history and our even more awesome NOW on our “history” page over at our website.

But what has any of this to do with reflection and thinking about where we go from here?

Everything actually.

While I was on sabbatical Champlain College really started to grow up.  You see, while in our history we had been given gifts to support our physical growth (think buildings such as The Miller Information Commons and the S.D. Ireland Global Business and Technology Center) we haven’t really had the type of contributions to academics that more traditional four year colleges and universities have. Champlain College is a tuition-driven institution which means we don’t have large endowments, or specialized “faculty chairs”.  October 2012 changed all that. We received the biggest gift in our 135 year history: $10 million from the Robert Stiller Family Foundation.

Wow. Look at us. Getting all grown up.

This gift resulted in Champlain getting its first “named” school: The Robert P. Stiller School of Business (of which I am a proud faculty!). Over the next five years we will also be able to add additional faculty, and we’ll be adding an emphasis to our school on Positive Organizational Development (based on the Appreciative Inquiry framework).

Part of the gift also included a challenge: The 2K 4 2M Challenge. A matching gift that if we can raise funds from 2,000 alumni we’ll get an additional $2 million to put towards our “Vision, Innovation, Passion” campaign. Naturally the idea here is that to have a truly successful educational institution we need to engage and gain support from alumni like never before; that our alumni are critical to our success, just as we have been a major part of their success.

Donate to our 2k42m Campaign

We need 380 more alumni to donate any amount (even $1 counts!) to get us to 2,000 alumni.

Naturally there’s a catch. We have to get the 2,000 donations by June 30th. But I’m sure you are up for it.

So no matter WHEN you went to Champlain. Take a few minutes and reflect back on your experience with us. Think about what you learned, where it took you, the people you met, how your life, your perspective, your world changed while you were here. Then think forward. Where will you help us go now? Your gift will help us expand our campus and continue to make a difference in the lives of young people. It will help the new Stiller School of Business do more to fulfill our mission of “…changing the world through business” and it will help Champlain College continue to thrive and grow as a leader for education and an economic driver for Burlington and for Vermont.

It’s easy to make a gift. Just head on over to our online support form, fill it out,  input your credit card info and become part of history at Champlain by being the biggest group of alumni to ever donate to the college.

Still not sure?

How about you watch these videos and see just how far we’ve come. Now imagine what videos we’ll be able to post five years from now because of your gift!

You Make It Happen | Champlain College from Champlain College on Vimeo.

Champlain Rules from Champlain College on Vimeo.

You can also help by spreading the word and sharing this post, or the link to our “official 2K42M” page where people can read more about it and check out messages from alumni who have given as well as noted colleagues Jim Ellefeson, Cinse Bonino, and Nancy Kerr.

Now, between you and me, there is also a letter from the Accounting faculty. You see, we have a little competition going on (well, specifically Thane Butt and I have a little competition going on). She believes that more Accounting alumni will donate than Marketing alumni. Frankly, I just can’t imagine that, because, as we all know MARKETING IS AWESOME! So here’s a special call to all Champlain Alumni who graduated from our Marketing program. You know what to do.

Click HERE.

Let’s beat Accounting!