Dear Fellow Alumni:

Although the winter months in the Midwest are for many a time of quiet reflection, such has not been the case for your Commerce Alumni Board. Embarking on a process that will help set our course for the future, the board is searching for additional ways to use its collective resources for the good of the college. In this issue, I would like to tell you about our process and plans.

This fall we had a series of candid meetings with Dean Thomas to identify areas where the board could be most useful. In doing so we were cognizant of the resources available to the dean internally through faculty and staff as well as externally through the board, our sister organization, the Business Advisory Council, and others. Dean Thomas welcomed our input and helped focus our energy into areas where we could add the most value. These meetings added clarity to our vision and helped shape the goals and objectives we hope to achieve.

Our January board meeting and an Executive Committee meeting in December served as the incubators for open and thoughtful discussion of our role exploring not only what we had been but, more importantly, what we could be. What emerged from our meetings were a series of actions and principles that we plan to use in guiding our efforts in the future.

First it was clear that the pace of the board's activity could be increased. We were not using the considerable talents of our board members fully, therefore, lessening their contributions to the college and to you, our constituents. By setting our sights too low, we weren't challenging our board members enough and may have disappointed some in the process. This will change.

Your board will be meeting more frequently and will supplement full board meetings with Executive and other committee meetings as needed. We will also identify and add new events that will help raise the visibility of the college and "reestablish" the connections of many alumni who have not been active for one reason or another. Our mainstay events Spring Luncheon and Fall Homecoming will of course be retained and continued to provide you with the wonderful opportunity to renew old acquaintances in an enjoyable forum. But we will also be exploring new ways to bring our alumni and the college together. Business briefings, a luncheon series featuring faculty and alumni, and a special event in the summer for alumni and their family are just a few of the ideas being considered. We will be communicating to you directly about our plans in the near future.

We will also sharply increase our focus on the interests and needs of our young alumni. We recognize that the future of the college and the board will be heavily influenced by the actions and interests of today's graduates. We want to leverage the success we have had with our young alumni by making certain we are fulfilling their needs. Counting both undergraduate and graduate students, about 1,200 students receive degrees from the college each year. In the last ten years alone, close to 12,000 alumni have joined our ranks. Our programs and plans must be responsive to the needs and interests of these alumni. This will be a major focus of our efforts in the future.

Technology has also provided new opportunities for us to communicate more efficiently. In this regard, we are currently negotiating with vendors to reissue the college's Alumni Directory, last issued in 1990. This will provide alumni with a valuable resource while updating the college's information about our graduates. Please be accommodating when asked for information later this year. We also are exploring more creative ways of communicating via the internet for those using this exciting new medium. The college has established a home page at http://www.cba.uiuc.edu/ that you can access for current information about Commerce.

As you can see, our ambitions are lofty. But the time is right to increase our efforts to serve the college. In closing let me personally ask you to mark your calendars to join us for our Annual Spring Luncheon on April 12. We are especially fortunate to have one of our most distinguished alumni, Lester McKeever, as both our guest and honoree at this year's luncheon. We couldn't do better.

With best regards,

Howard S. Engle

President, Commerce Alumni Association


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