All-Alumni Survey Results Lead MBU to Create New Leadership Structure for the Alumni Association

September 2, 2020

Continuing Mary Baldwin’s longstanding tradition of innovation and forward-thinking action, the university is setting in motion new engagement opportunities for all alumni in the areas of alumni leadership and volunteer service. In tandem with this engagement strategy, MBU is also evolving the leadership structure of the Alumni Association over the upcoming year to best support programming, services, and operations to benefit all alumni.

In preparation for this evolution, the Office of Alumni Engagement has taken into account many voices of past and present alumni and university leaders, and now Mary Baldwin is preparing a new leadership structure to officially begin operation in June 2021, with the goal of best representing the multi-faceted voices of the MBU alumni community across undergraduate and graduate programs, affinity groups, class years, and diverse backgrounds.

“I am proud of the evolution of our Alumni Association into a re-envisioned volunteer community that reflects our diverse constituency,” said Sue Whitlock ’67, Mary Baldwin Trustee Emerita, past president of the Alumni Board, and member of the Alumni Volunteer Task Force. “Aligned with the strategic goals of the university, the new structure encourages members from all degree programs, affinity groups, and ethnicities to volunteer in areas of interest. The broadened view of alumni participation will benefit our university as it continues to thrive.”

In June 2021, the new Alumni Leadership Board will be formed to support the Office of Alumni Engagement’s strategic implementation plan that puts into action the needs and priorities identified in the 2019 all-alumni survey. In that survey, more than 45% of respondents indicated that an alumni association board should reflect all MBU programs and areas, and over 36% indicated a preference for a combination of appointed and elected board representatives.

“As a former president of the Alumni Board, I am excited about the new structure for the Alumni Association and its leadership board,” said Fleet Roberts ’81. “Last spring our university asked for our participation in an all-alumni survey, and I want to thank my fellow alumni for taking the time to complete it. The new momentum in alumni engagement shows that Mary Baldwin has listened to our input. With these new initiatives, we will bring together the expertise of our alumni, forge partnerships and relationships, and help foster personal development for all alumni.”

There are several steps toward the new leadership structure set to occur over the course of the 2020–21 academic year. Currently, the MBU Alumni Association is creating three volunteer working committees, open to any member of the MBU alumni community to join: the Communications Committee, Career/Mentoring Committee, and the Regional Engagement Committee.   

Formed in July, the Communications Committee is assisting the Office of Alumni Engagement in reviewing and testing the new online alumni community prior to its rollout, naming the new site, and providing feedback on how best to communicate with alumni about this new and exciting platform. Slots on the committee are still available for alumni interested in volunteering their time and communications experience.

“As a member of the Communications Committee, the most meaningful and fulfilling part of the work has been being able to interact with fellow alumni from varying graduation classes,” said Megan Truman ’17. “We’re all contributing to building a community of collaboration and connection that will exist once we launch the new website and database. It has been amazing seeing our work come to life.” 

The Career/Mentoring Committee will call for volunteers in late fall, and will support the Office of Alumni Engagement and the Vantage Point: The Office of Personal and Professional Development at MBU to help generate career and professional development programming for alumni. Planned to form in the new year, the Regional Engagement Committee will support the Office of Alumni Engagement as it seeks to enhance its regional alumni chapter program

“By design, all three committees will hit on what is most needed to connect with Mary Baldwin alumni, who have scattered beyond regional and local chapters. Since I’ve been living out on the west coast, this makes me very happy,” said JJ Mink ’75, who is a dedicated class volunteer. “Each committee will identify a specific, important need, but I am hopeful the committees will overlap and share the same goal: unite the alumni.”

Additional committees will become available next year in the areas of lifelong learning, programming and events, and young alumni and other affinity groups, again, reflecting the interests expressed in the all-alumni survey. 

The leadership of all these committees will be organically determined among respective members and will then assist the university in forming the new Alumni Leadership Board for launch in June 2021.  

“To me personally, I am excited to be involved in one of these new committees, and I see it as a way to give back to Mary Baldwin using the skill-set I learned during my studies,” said Sarah Mann ’09, who is a member of the Key Stakeholders Group and Communications Committee. “As an alum it is a way for me to connect with other alumni, especially as someone who is still growing in her career. I am also excited about the new leadership board, since the process and makeup of this board have very much been driven by alumni for alumni. I think that design is critical to ensure that it is successful for years to come.”

In fall 2019, the decision to evolve the MBU Alumni Association’s leadership structure was communicated to members of the Alumni Board. Following those conversations, the Alumni Volunteer Task Force was formed, made up of alumni members of the MBU Board of Trustees and the executive committee of the 2019–20 Alumni Board. 

The Office of Alumni Engagement and the Alumni Volunteer Task Force have collaborated since the fall to develop a proposed structure for a volunteer alumni leadership organization. All members of the 2019–20 Alumni Board also received advance notice of the task force’s work and an early invitation to join the new committees. 

“The new Alumni Leadership Board will allow for a broader engagement of all Mary Baldwin alumni, and will offer opportunities for all alumni to join open committees and to lend their voice,” said Jules Moss ’92, member of the Alumni Volunteer Task Force. “Our alumni base has grown and become more varied with programs and demographic diversity, so we need a more inclusive and representative board that reflects the Mary Baldwin of today.”

Volunteering to join the new opportunities for alumni, Moss is serving as a member of the Communications Committee, while her classmate one-year-removed and colleague on the task force Christy Howell ’93 is soon to be a member of the Career/Mentor Committee.    

“In my opinion, the heart of this mission in creating the Alumni Leadership Board was to find a way to actively engage the whole of the MBU alumni community year-round,” said Howell, who also serves the university as a Trustee. “The new format creates dynamic and flexible opportunities that will ebb and flow with the availability, interests, and expertise of our alumni. They will be enabled to engage when, where, and how they want to, and the process of engagement will be drastically simplified and streamlined.”

Past presidents of the Alumni Association were in majority support for the evolution of MBU’s alumni leadership structure, as were a group of key stakeholders who provided guidance and feedback to the Office of Alumni Engagement on alumni engagement strategy for this transition year. Names of those engaged in these groups can be found at marybaldwin.edu/alumni, as well as a list of FAQs with more detail about the evolution of the alumni leadership structure.

Founded in 1893, the MBU Alumni Association now counts more than 17,000 alumni as members, including alumni graduates and non-degreed alumni — who attended at least one semester at Mary Baldwin and left in good standing — as well as honorary alumni. 

For those interested in volunteering and finding out more about opportunities available through the Alumni Association, please visit marybaldwin.edu/alumni or email Adrienne Teague, executive director of alumni engagement.