Terms of Engagement
Published Jan 1, 2008 8:00 AM
Copyright ©Photo by Ken Buckner
Ralph Amos stepped into the role of assistant vice chancellor, alumni relations, and executive director of the UCLA Alumni Association last August. He talked with Contributing Writer Mark Davis about why alumni and their associations are more important than ever.
Why are alumni associations still relevant?
They are the mindful, operational, functional pieces of colleges and universities that connect former students to the place they call alma mater. Today, we need to engage alumni in a manner that makes a difference for them and for the institution. That is relevant. It is essential to the life of a strong institution to have engaged, active, participating alumni. For example, in October we brought our scholarship recipients and put them together with alumni donors and volunteers. That's a million-dollar program that matters — and alumni make it happen.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
For us to become the organization that is of benefit to alumni in their daily lives. I'm excited about the potential of the Web to help in that effort. At the Pioneer Bruins' reunion, Sherman Grancell '30 was telling his fellow Pioneers — who graduated more than 70 years ago — to get online and take advantage of everything UCLA offers. We're going to help by launching a dedicated UCLA social networking site.
What are the biggest challenges to keeping alumni involved?
The fact is all of our lives today are busy and hectic. This is particularly true of our alumni, who tell us they want opportunities that are timely, focused and have a positive impact on UCLA.
What are the strengths of the organization today?
Our volunteers and staff — talented, capable and visionary.
How do alumni help get the organization there?
Of course, we need alumni to care and be passionate, but we also need them to bring their good minds, strategic thinking and expertise back to campus. Most important, we need alumni to use what they learned at UCLA and in life to help advance their alma mater. It's like that old Beach Boys song says, "Be true to your school."