special committee on alumni culture, diversity and inclusion

Summary report

The Alumni Association’s Board of Trustees formed the Special Committee on Alumni Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion to provide a rigorous assessment of the Alumni Association’s policies and operations. The Committee aims to empower our alumni leadership to align the organization’s culture with its commitment to Core Values, leverage the diversity of the community, and foster inclusivity for all members. Ultimately, the Committee will produce a final report, incorporating community feedback on this initial report as well as forthcoming survey results.

The volunteer Special Committee, consisting of 12 alumni varied in background, age, race, gender, and experience, conducted a rigorous, three-month review of the Alumni Association’s mission, board policy, processes, recruitment, and succession planning. The Special Committee sought input from a variety of sources, consulting widely within the membership and relying on recognized best practices from other leading institutions. We worked towards the achievement of three Desired Outcomes:

Desired outcomes

• Greater Appreciation for Each Other as Alumni
• Greater Transparency and Better Education of Alumni Association Mission, Goals & Objectives
• Expanded Diverse Engagement and Participation in the Alumni Association

Countless one-on-one conversations provided the opportunity to listen to alumni and their families. Focus groups, conducted by an external professional research firm, produced detailed information on members’ perceptions of the Alumni Association’s culture, communications, and programming. An internal review of institutional governance structures and policies, conducted with the Women’s SIG and NAMA, served as a foundation to enhance existing practices and develop new proposals. Throughout the entire process, the Special Committee solicited direct feedback from all Alumni Association members, many of whom offered both personal stories and thoughtful reflections on the organization’s strengths, shortcomings, and potential to improve. In addition, the members of the Special Committee each brought their own perspective and lived experience to the conversation – but above all, Committee members sought to listen and to learn.

During this process, it became clear that the Alumni Association faces several obstacles. We heard that many members – younger alumni in particular – do not feel welcome at the Alumni Association and do not see the organization doing enough to help all members. At the same time, we heard a strong desire and hope that the organization will improve. The Alumni Association needs to take collective action to reestablish trust, overcome barriers to participation, and create a culture of inclusion.

Highlighted among these initial, preliminary recommendations are:

• Greater diversification on the Board of Trustees and throughout the leadership
• Establishing principles of professionalism
• Improving transparency
• New policies governing organizational functions and leadership

Additional inputs will be forthcoming from alumni census surveys (conducted in partnership with an external firm) and member town halls which will produce further ideas and direction. There is still much work that needs to be done. Until an Alumni Survey is complete and the collected data has been analyzed, the Special Committee’s recommendations will be in an interim state. Final recommendations from the Special Committee will be presented as a final report to the Alumni Association Board of Trustees for review, decision and action.

Send your input and recommendations to the special committee at: alumnifeedback@usna.com.

as of 16 October 2020