Alumni Advisory Board Meeting - January 2012
"Academic excellence is at the forefront of what the University is about", stated the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chair of the Alumni Advisory Board, adding that the University is committed to maintaining undergraduate education at current levels, while developing its key communities of graduate students and postdocs.
Twenty AAB members were present, including five new members Mr Patrick Karney, Mr Ian Mitchelson, Mr David Peace, Dr Anne Thidemann and Dr Kai-Yuen Wong. Retiring members Edward Knowles, Dina Medland and Dr Simon Singh were thanked.
The election of a new Chancellor in October 2011 marked an outward-facing autumn of engagement with alumni, with 5,500 returning to vote. The Vice-Chancellor thanked all those who volunteered on the day, and expressed the hope that the success of the endeavour would serve as a model for future events.
The meeting discussed the planned series of events linking with the 2012 Olympics, including a prestigious event at which thirty four former Olympians will host tables. Comparisons were drawn between the recent 800th Anniversary in 2009 and the opportunities presented by the Olympics in 2012. It was felt that from time to time, a unified theme might be a useful way to engage with alumni. With more than two thousand alumni spread across a multiplicity of sectors and disciplines, it might be helpful to periodically focus on the achievements of particular groups. The Vice-Chancellor stressed that themed events should relate to the University's core values and help to fulfil our mission.
It was noted that 60% of alumni from the last decade have stated that sport was an important part of their time in Cambridge and that they would consider returning to attend a sports related event here. The Vice-Chancellor added that the new West Cambridge Sports Centre will raise the profile of all sports at Cambridge, and the University itself. It would boost participation at all levels, casual or professional, and connect with alumni after they leave. It is crucial to reinforce their sense of belonging, he said.
Heinz Fuchs reported that three new members have been recruited to the Networks and Volunteer Working Group. In March he will be visiting both Cambridge in America and the Association of Yale Alumni. Yale GALE, the Global Alumni Leadership Exchange, has been invited to the fifth annual Cambridge Leadership Conference on 7 July , and the AYA Board will be joining the AAB dinner. The first international Leadership Conference will be held in Hong Kong on 15 April, with the participation of the Vice Chancellor. Hence there will be two Sandy Ross-Macdonald Awards this year, the second of which will be presented in Hong Kong.
Sir Paul Judge provided an update on the work of the Communications Working Group. 4,500 alumni have updated their details on iModules, the new online service for alumni, resulting in a significant increase in the quality of data held. Some progress has been made towards the implementation of an email for life, whereby matriculation email addresses would become permanent. New Data Protection guidelines drawn up by the University's Legal Services Office came into effect in September, and the implications for the monthly e-bulletin are under review. Options for the digital development of CAM, including an app, were discussed and it was noted that a pdf version is already available for download. But there is a consensus that ideally three print issues of CAM a year should be retained alongside any digital implementation.