We are very excited to start off our terms as chair and chair-elect of the Plymouth State University Alumni Association! Based on the results of the Alumni Attitude Study, one of the things that the board of directors is striving to do is be more open and communicative with the greater alumni population. Thus, you may have received an electronic survey that asked you questions about the PSU Alumni Association’s current process on elections to the Board of Directors. For those that responded, we thank you! We had a great response to the survey.
The responses to the survey were awesome! We received responses from six decades of alumni … from the 1950s to the 2000s. Not only did you respond to the survey questions, but you also took the time to write detailed questions, suggestions, and comments to each of the questions. And yes, we read them all!
You overwhelming responded that you thought that a representative board of directors of the Plymouth State alumni Association was important, by a margin of 77.5% to 22.5%! So why is it important to have a representative board of directors and how do we accomplish it?
Why is a Representative Board of Directors Important?
It is important to have a representative board of directors by decades so that the issues, concerns, and needs from the 50s and 60s are heard as well as the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. One area where there are differences in the decades is in the style of communication to you. Our more recent alumni prefer electronic communication whereas our more seasoned alumni prefer more traditional correspondence like My Plymouth and mail. We need to be able to address all modes of communication while being fiscally conscious.
It is equally important to ensure that the board of directors represents different geographical areas. Why is it important to have different geographical areas represented; because the needs of our alumni in New England are different from those within New Hampshire. In addition, the needs of alumni outside of New England are different. If we want to engage all alumni, we need to be aware of, and address the needs of all alumni, no matter where they live.
How Do We Accomplish a Representative Board of Directors?
Currently the PSU Alumni Association board of directors works with the PSU Alumni office to identify and cultivate potential board members. We are always looking for alumni that are involved in their local communities or organizations. We also receive feedback and input from alumni that inform us of an alumnus that wants to get more involved. Our policy has always been that “anyone” can become a member of the PSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and our current board members support this statement. There is a formal process in place that all candidates seeking to become members of the board of directors must go through. It is a very detailed, in-depth process and one that is taken very seriously.
The current Plymouth State University Alumni Association Board of Directors members spans six decades … from the 1950s – 2000s. We are proud to say that we have 10 members of the board of directors who are involved in education …whether it is at the high school level (active or retired), within higher education (both full-time and part-time), or within adult learning/training. In addition, we have two board members who are involved in the financial business world, we have a board members who is a lawyer advocating for children’s rights, we have a board member who is involved in social work, and we have two members who work within the non-profit sector.
The majority of our board members reside in New Hampshire, but we also have representation from Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida. We want to be able to continue our decade representation, and expand our geographical representation on the board.
Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of a ballot vote is that people tend to vote for people they know. You may be a great candidate for the board, but unless someone knows who you are, you may not be elected. This is in fact some of the feedback that we received from the survey. Many survey respondents felt that if there were others who could research the candidates, interview them, ask them questions about what they wanted to accomplish on the board etc., that this would be a more suitable way to select a board candidate.
We asked you on the survey “Would you support changing the process from a general election to a process where a slate of pre-selected candidates is approved by the President of the University, the Director of Alumni Relations, and the PSU Alumni Association Board of Directors?” You’re responses were again in support (75% to 25%) to change our process from a general election to an appointed board.
The PSU Alumni Association Board of Directors did their homework after the survey. Not only did we survey you, our alumni, but we also surveyed 16 others colleges and universities to see what they thought. Their responses were similar to yours. In addition, of the 16 schools we surveyed 7 have appointed boards, 1 is a mixture (both elected and appointed), 4 are elected (with 3 of those schools moving to an appointed board), and 4 did not respond. We also looked at all of the responses you provided in the survey, both the positive and the negative. We weighed everything and in the end we voted to move to an appointed board of directors rather than an elected board of directors. Our biggest factor for doing so was not the cost involved, but rather the fact that you wanted a representative board of directors and many felt that an elected board was not the best way to achieve a representative board of directors.
We want to ensure that the election process is open to all alumni, that it is fair, that the different decades are represented, that the different geographic areas are represented, that the different genders are represented, and that first and foremost the best interest of the alumni and Plymouth State is represented. It has never been, nor will it ever be, our intention to make this a “private club.” This is your alumni association and we are simply the people that have been elected, or appointed, to represent your issues and concerns.
We look forward to the next time that we can update you on what the Plymouth State University Alumni Association Board of Directors are doing and accomplishing. Until that time, Ut Prosim!