As chair, I have the privilege of being an ex officio member of all Alumni Association committees and councils. When I started my term two years ago, I had no clear understanding of the careful, important, and impactful work that my fellow leaders and their committee members were doing in these groups. Now that I have attended their meetings and participated in their discussions, I see the pivotal role they play in promoting Wesleyan and engaging alumni. Let me take you into a few of those meeting rooms now…

Irma Gonzalez ’78 P’09 is finishing her two-year term this spring as chair of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching Committee. Like the Binswanger chairs before her, Irma spent many hours on campus reading nominations from students and alumni, along with teacher evaluations, as she prepared to facilitate the lively committee meeting devoted to selecting prizewinners. Recognizing the importance of this prestigious prize, Irma recommended that we raise its visibility by accelerating the announcement process: That way, we’ll have ample time with students still on campus to celebrate these impressive faculty members, prior to the Commencement presentation.

Susan Sutherland ’82 is midway through her term chairing the Nominating Committee, which develops the alumni-elected trustee ballot each year. Previous magazine columns have been devoted to the importance of voting and the unique role our alumni-elected trustees play in the governance of the university, so I won’t ramble on about that here (as much as I would like to!).  I will say, however, that I am extremely impressed with Susan’s leadership, as well as with the strategic and thoughtful approach of the Committee—from identifying strong potential candidates to the very difficult task of selecting only six alumni to be voted on by the alumni body. Your vote matters!

Ruth Pachman ’78 chairs the Wesleyan Fund. With a core group of Executive Committee members and a large group of National Committee members, Ruth has mobilized the Wesleyan Fund volunteers so that they are on the ground talking with their fellow alumni and educating others about the importance of participation—of supporting Wesleyan every year. Ruth and the other Wesleyan Fund officers have their work cut out for them. In this age of multi-media communications, battling for airtime, and struggling to get noticed, the team is using innovative ways to get alumni attention. Their message is powerful and important, and if you remember one thing I write in this Chair’s column, I hope it will be that your gift matters to Wesleyan! After leading the Athletics Advisory Council since its 2007 inception, Moira McNamara James ’78 P’10, P’16 and Dennis Robinson ’79 P’13 will pass the torch to new AAC co-chairs at the end of June. Under their leadership, the AAC worked closely with the athletics department in many areas, including recruiting, marketing, fundraising, and alumni-student mentoring. On a lengthy list of the AAC’s accomplishments, two examples stand out: the beautiful Athletics Hall of Fame, showcasing Wesleyan’s rich athletics history; and the Athletic Advantage Program, which provides scholar-athletes with extensive career mentoring and networking opportunities on- and off-campus. Many thanks to Dennis and Moira for their work in establishing the AAC, a model for subsequent councils, and for setting the bar high!

These are just five of many volunteers with whom I have had the pleasure to work during my term as Alumni Association chair. I leave this office inspired by their work and eager to remain engaged. I hope you will join me as a volunteer for Wesleyan, whether that means chairing a committee—like Irma, Susan, Ruth, Dennis, and Moira—or wearing a Wesleyan T-shirt to promote our great school, or anything and everything in between….

Michael Klingher ’78, P’12, P’15

Chair, Wesleyan Alumni Association