Officials introduce new alumni association

Media Credit: Alexander Welling | Assistant Photo Editor

Administrators launched a new alumni association Wednesday to strengthen ties between the University and its graduates.

The University announced the next incarnation of the alumni association and named the members of its leadership team in a release Wednesday.

Officials debuted the GW Alumni Association “to strengthen and promote an invested alumni community that inspires lifelong loyalty through the engagement of current and future alumni,” according to the release. The group’s executive committee, which consists of 13 alumni who will serve for a maximum of four years, will embark on a listening tour this summer to solicit feedback from alumni on how the organization should operate.

“I am thrilled to welcome the volunteer leaders of the new GW Alumni Association, and I look forward to collaborating with them to advance the university,” University President Thomas LeBlanc said in the release.

Officials decided to launch their own alumni group after a failed merger between the former GW Alumni Association with the Office of Alumni Relations. The move led to the resignations of the group’s former president and several of its board members.

Members of the former alumni association adopted a new name – the Independent Alumni Association of George Washington – and vowed to continue serving the alumni community.

The new group will feature an Alumni Association Leadership Council, which is composed of executive committee members and representatives from each of the University’s Chartered Alumni Networks, more than 80 existing alumni groups organized by region or around shared interests, according to the release.

Richard Jones, GWAA’s new president and a member of the executive committee, said he looks forward “to working with our many alumni volunteers” and officials to engage the 290,000 alumni living around the world as GW approaches its bicentennial in 2021.

All graduates who completed at least 15 credits at the University and left in good standing will automatically become members of GWAA, the release states. Members will not pay dues but are encouraged to donate to fund scholarships.

Amanda Fugazy, a member of GWAA’s executive committee, said committee members have conducted “informal” meetings so far but plan to have an official meeting in the fall after the committee concludes its virtual listening tour.

She added that the committee will collect alumni feedback on the tour to determine the “best way” to “energize” alumni and increase philanthropy, one of LeBlanc’s five strategic initiatives.

“I think the idea is for the executive committee to build excitement among the alumni and collaborate with the GW staff to try to better engage the alumni community,” Fugazy said.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said a representative from the fundraising consultant eAdvancement provided “strategic advice and counsel to University staff and alumni” to assist with GWAA’s launch. Seven of GW’s 12 peer schools currently retain eAdvancement’s services.

Csellar declined to say how much officials paid eAdvancement for its services.

IAAGW President Martin Baum said his group will try to complement GWAA by building connections with a smaller subset of alumni organizations through grants and events.

“We have a commitment, a vision and a mission to helping all alumni and all students on the areas that they identified as their greatest need,” Baum said. “I don’t see that changing in the foreseeable future.”

He said nearly 15 groups, including The GW Hatchet Alumni Association and the literacy center at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, have applied for IAAGW grants.

Kathy Bikus, IAAGW’s governance chair, said the independent alumni group will continue to host networking opportunities and events in addition to activities the GWAA plans.

“We don’t want to be in competition, or we don’t want to have to steer away from what they’re doing,” Bikus said. “We’re just going to have a parallel effort so that alumni or current students, whatever they need, that they can turn to us as a resource.”

Meredith Roaten contributed reporting.

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