Increased alumni engagement efforts paying off for U of M

Glass apple with university seal

Whether it’s supporting scholarships, mentoring a student, advocating for the University of Minnesota with the legislature or cheering for the maroon and gold, alumni involvement helps make the institution better, according to University of Minnesota Alumni Association (UMAA) leaders.

Lisa Lewis, UMAA’s president and CEO, outlined the continued impact alumni have on the University system during her annual report to the Board of Regents today.

“The state of the alumni is strong,” said Lewis. “Their time, extraordinary talent, philanthropy, loyalty and passion help shape the University’s future. We are truly grateful for their collective efforts on behalf of their alma mater.”

In the past year, UMAA worked to engage alumni through a vast array of experiences, providing 263 in-person and virtual alumni events, including:

Continuing MN Sparks events, which deliver faculty excellence to alumni and communities in every corner of the state. Collaborating with campus partners, UMAA has hosted seven to date, with five more scheduled through April 2018.  

Expanding the Corporate Alumni Network, adding four new companies: General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Medtronic, and UnitedHealth Group. Joining existing networks at Target, Best Buy and US Bank, new alumni network members participated in a Business Bowl on campus to encourage networking with coworkers and other graduates.

Marketing U of M license plates, which support student scholarships. Campaigns are currently running at Department of Motor Vehicle offices statewide, as well as places across the Twin Cities, Duluth, Crookston, and Morris.

Alumni also raised their voice for the University at the Capitol, combining with faculty, staff and students to make more than 20,000 contacts with lawmakers. Additionally, more than 40,000 alumni contributed $171.2 million in financial support, accounting for more than half of all donations to the University last year.

Looking ahead, UMAA plans to develop a new five-year strategic plan, emphasize current students and recent alumni, and use engagement data to better serve alumni and expand relationships.

‘On an upward trajectory’
Ensuring success of current students throughout their time at the University continues to be a focus of the Board and administration. That’s one of many areas across the U of M system showing sustained positive trends, according to the University Progress Card, a robust tool used to track progress on high-level institutional goals.
Regents reviewed the Card which showing progress toward the vast majority of measures throughout the 2016-17 academic year, reflecting “undeniable upward trajectory of the University toward increased excellence” according to President Eric Kaler. These measures include increasing graduation rates, more institutional gift aid system-wide and the lowering of median undergraduate debt at graduation for students system-wide.

More details can be found in this press release.

The Board also:

Received an annual report from Gopher Athletics. Student-athlete academic success, athletic accomplishments, the department’s budget, facilities and fundraising were outlined by Athletics Director Mark Coyle. Coyle also discussed plans for the upcoming year.

Approved Dr. Robert Kase as the new dean of UMD’s School of Fine Arts. Kase, a UMD and UMTC graduate, comes from the University of St. Francis and is a Grammy-nominated, internationally-known trumpet artist.

Approved a resolution affirming strong support for the World Expo in 2023, to be located in Minneapolis and associated with the University. The resolution maintains a commitment to continue campus operations, avoid financial exposure and ensure replacement of assets if needed.

Read President Eric Kaler’s report to the Board here.

Following today’s meeting, Regents will hold their summer retreat. The Board will meet again Sept. 7-8.

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