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ERIC Number: ED530827
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Sep
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Anatomy of an Alumnus. Commentary
Weerts, David
Association for the Study of Higher Education
In today's resource scarce environment, it is no surprise that colleges and universities are seeking innovative ways to bolster charitable giving among their alumni. Stripling's article focuses on how alumni research conducted at Claremont McKenna College aims to find out what graduates need and expect from their alma mater. Claremont McKenna leaders hope, in part, that such information will be useful in designing cultivation strategies to increase giving among their graduates. The central question underlying their effort is: "What can our institution do to increase alumni giving?" In perilous economic times, this question is on the forefront of every advancement executive's mind. Research on alumni giving would underscore consultant, Donald Summer's point in the article that "there's no magic bullet" when it comes to understanding what makes alumni give. Rather a complex set of factors collectively explain alumni generosity for their alma mater. Drezner's (2011) recent monograph summarizes several categories of theories as they seek to explain giving among alumni. Some of these theories examine how intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are played out in giving decisions. Furthermore, particularly intriguing discussion highlighted in Stripling's article is the idea that Millennial alumni (individuals born between 1982 and 2001) "are seemingly dropping off the face of the Earth" as stated by Patrick Roche, Claremont McKenna's director of annual giving. Alternatively, young alumni are said to be "more likely to support causes that are global in scope" according to Rae Goldsmith, vice president of advancement resources at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. What these two observations suggest is that there is a wide gulf between what colleges and universities offer, and what young alums desire from their alma mater. If it is true that future generations of alumni are increasingly drawn to global causes, institutions might redesign themselves to become a resource for graduates who seek to connect their giving to important societal issues. Such a strategy aligns with research suggesting that today's major donors are more interested in solving problems than promoting institutional ambitions. The national movement toward public engagement in higher education could provide advancement officers with models for constructing mutually beneficial relationships that serve alumni, institutions, and society at large. Such a strategy may truly "get at the anatomy" of the alum, connecting graduates with larger sets of problems for which higher education could be a solution. [This document presents a commentary on: "Anatomy of an Alumnus" by Jack Stripling" published in "Inside Higher Ed" August 2, 2010. "Anatomy of an Alumnus," its commentary, a list of suggested readings, and discussion questions are included.]
Association for the Study of Higher Education. Box 453068 4505 South Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas, NV 89154. Tel: 702-895-2737; Fax: 702-895-4269; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Association for the Study of Higher Education
Identifiers - Location: California