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Trustees discuss future of alumni association

A proposal to merge the alumni association with the university cleared its first hurdle on April 7 when the Stanford Board of Trustees endorsed a draft agreement outlining the plan.

In separate action, the board approved the concept of creating a new $30 million facility for the alumni association and the Office of Development. The new facility would be located near the intersection of Campus Drive and Galvez Street.

Both moves are designed to establish and maintain better connections with alumni, said Robert Bass, chair of the board of trustees.

The board authorized a special task force to sign off on the merger, pending approval by the Stanford Alumni Association's board in mid-May.

"We've made a great deal of headway and are proceeding to the May meeting with lots of progress to report," said Bill Stone, president of the alumni association.

If the proposal is approved by the alumni association's board, it must then go before the association's 72,000 members for a vote. At least 10 percent of the membership must vote to achieve a quorum.

"It will be a challenge to get them to vote," Bass said, explaining that many alumni don't even realize that they have a vote. "There will be extensive efforts in terms of communications. We will try to make voting as easy as possible. We'll be setting up websites, [conducting] electronic voting and whatever other methods will be most convenient for the majority of alumni."

Under the proposed merger, the alumni association would become a division of the university, with its president reporting to the president of the university. Staff from the alumni association would become university employees and the alumni association's board would assume an advisory role to the new alumni division.

Bass said no layoffs are expected as a result of the proposed change. Staff from the alumni association will just move across and become part of the new division, he said. "The alumni association is a very lean organization. Currently it isn't staffed for the additional services we intend to provide for alumni so there will be additional staff," he noted.

John Lillie, trustee and chair of the task force, said an important part of this initiative will be getting more students involved with the alumni association. "We recognize that we need to prepare them to become alumni and have a life-long association with the university," he said. A volunteer clearinghouse to match alumni interests and skills with volunteer opportunities on campus also is being proposed.

Currently, the development office and the alumni association keep separate records on alumni. By bringing these services together under one roof, he said, the need for duplication will be eliminated.

"This, in turn, will result in better service to alumni because it makes it easier for them to communicate with the university and vice versa," he said.

All aspects of alumni communications, including a streamlined Stanford Magazine, will be directed from the new alumni division, Lillie added. Efforts to communicate with alumni via electronic communication will be expanded, he said.

The task force, which has been meeting for three months to discuss the merger, is made up of five trustees, five members of the alumni association board, the president of the alumni association, the vice president of development, a staff member from the alumni association, a staff member from development, and a faculty and student representative.


By Marisa Cigarroa

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