Alumni Advisory Board Meeting - July 2011
"We want to attract the brightest and best, whatever their background", said the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chair of the Alumni Advisory Board (AAB) at its sixth meeting on 8 July 2011, held in Cambridge.
He stressed the need to ensure "quality and excellence in everything we do, including the undergraduate programme" and the importance of bursaries in furthering this agenda, while acknowledging that these do not at present form a part of the government's widening participation initiative.
The meeting was attended by sixteen AAB members, including new member John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor, who was attending for the first time. It was noted that the election of a new Chancellor in October would serve to remind all alumni that they have a voice, and because voting requires personal attendance at the Senate House, it was anticipated that many would return to Cambridge on the day.
The Board welcomed the news that funding for CARO was now on a permanent basis, secured by the University, and a report on CARO's recent activities was given. CARO was present at this year's General Admissions, where graduating students were asked to complete record cards, and this proved very successful.
Board members endorsed plans to stage a series of events to celebrate the 2012 Olympics, including a Thames cruise on the night of the opening ceremony. The Vice-Chancellor said that these would provide an opportunity to highlight the achievements of Cambridge students, and to engage with the city of Cambridge. It was noted that £20 million has been approved for a new sports centre which is to be partly funded philanthropically.
The launch of the new online service for alumni will now take place at the beginning of September. The Board heard that more than 58,600 alumni now have a cantab.net address, and that the University has recently launched an official LinkedIn group which is already very active and growing rapidly.
A strategy for international engagement was also discussed. Given that a quarter of alumni live outside the UK, it was hoped that the profile of alumni relations could be raised, initially in a number of key locations with the greatest concentration of alumni, but in the longer term there is an intention to develop, articulate and integrate communications strategies to allow the University to reach alumni wherever they are. The Vice-Chancellor stressed his wish to develop a pastoral role in meeting alumni living in troubled areas.