A Vision for Alumnae Engagement

August 21, 2012

A Message from Smith President Carol T. Christ and AASC Board Chair Lynn Fox:

Alumnae are the manifestation of a Smith education in the world. The experience you share as students marks the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the college and with one another. Over the last nine months, board leadership of the college and the Alumnae Association have worked together to develop a strategic plan for alumnae engagement to deepen and enhance the engagement of alumnae in the college’s global vision for women’s education.

To develop the plan, we reviewed signature programs at Smith and elsewhere and used focus groups and surveys of alumnae. You told us, for example, that you want the programs we offer to have greater connection to the intellectual life of the college today. You want resources, programs, and giving opportunities aimed specifically at the particular needs of recent graduates, who are early in their careers and whose lives are mobile. You seek better online resources and technology support in your roles as volunteers for Smith, and would like meaningful ways to get involved, as alumnae, in institutional diversity initiatives. Members of our staffs have begun to develop initiatives to achieve these goals.

The board of trustees and the board of the AASC agreed to key principles to guide planning, including the principle that in every respect our communications, events, and outreach should reflect an integrated institution and be supported by seamless organizational processes.  As important, our volunteer leadership agreed to encourage innovation and experimentation and committed to review the effectiveness of our alumnae engagement on a regular and rigorous basis, redirecting resources from outdated approaches toward new models that meet shared strategic goals.

In order to successfully meet these ambitions, improve the provision of services to alumnae, and promote closer collaboration between the AASC and the college, the AASC board of directors has recommended that Smith hire a senior professional with overall responsibility for developing and leading alumnae relations for the college. Reporting to the college president, the individual will also serve as the executive director of the AASC, which will remain an independent organization and will continue its mission to further the well-being of Smith College and its alumnae by increasing the interest of alumnae in the college and each other.

A search will begin immediately, chaired by President Christ, with a search committee of college and AASC board representatives. We will post the job description soon on the Careers@Smith site and encourage submission of nominations to our search consultant, The Development Guild. Interim AASC Executive Director Mary Ann Hill will continue to direct alumnae engagement while the search is under way. Conversations continue between our two boards about ways to strengthen alumnae engagement and voice at Smith’s highest leadership levels.

We will keep you informed of these efforts and look forward to announcing this new member of our community within the fall semester. We are deeply appreciative of our volunteer leaders and of the college staff who are committed to enacting an engagement strategy worthy of the remarkable commitment that Smith women have to their college and to the world.

Carol T. Christ
Smith College

Lynn Smith Fox
President, Alumnae Association of Smith College