The State of Wharton Alumni Affairs

Alumni affairs at Wharton has come a long way since Pat Harker became Dean but I think we all agree there is much more that can and should be done. While the Wharton Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving Office is already ahead of national alumni relations industry standards, I believe the industry standards are too low and are not something to which we should aspire. Wharton should set the standards.

We have dedicated, talented, professionals in the Wharton Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving Office who have accomplished a lot in a relatively short period of time. The problem is they are spending so much time putting out fires and handling day to day responsibilities that they do not have the time to do the strategic planning necessary to better utilize the resources available. That’s where we come in. As Wharton alumni it is time to put our own house in order.

The Wharton alumni network is one of the most exclusive and powerful networks in the world. As alumni leaders, it is our responsibility to create and manage an infrastructure that can open doors for us, and provide business contacts, access, and opportunities. We all have a vested interest in expanding the alumni network. Everyone knows you have to “give to get” and you have to “help to be helped.” It is this enlightened self-interest that is the ultimate power of the Wharton community.

It is Wharton’s goal to fundamentally change the way alumni interact with each other and with the school. After discussions with may of you, the Wharton alumni affairs professionals, and many other alumni associations around the country, I believe the perfect time to implement this change internationally is in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the School in 2006. To that end :

1. At the May 13, 2005 Alumni Leadership Council meeting I will be presenting a proposal that we create an international alumni association to allow the alumni to speak with one voice rather than 80 and provide for a better utilization of alumni and school resources.

2. As president of the WCNY I announced at our last board meeting that we are forming a WCNY Commission to review alumni relations and make recommendations to improve the Alumni Affairs and Annual Giving office. There is no point complaining if we are not prepared to offer viable alternatives and solutions.

The Wharton Alumni Association should be an integral part of alumni lives if “life long commitment to learning” is to have any meaning. The alumni association should be about access; access to people, ideas, information, and resources. There needs to be an infrastructure to foster and encourage that access; there needs to be tangible and intangible benefits to participating in that infrastructure; there needs to be a “career path” for alumni who want to give their time in service to their school (and those alumni need to be recognized for the time they donate); and we need to ensure the resources available are properly allocated and effectively used.

We will need volunteers to make all of this happen. The more volunteers we have, the smaller the individual time commitments will be. Make no mistake, this is a big task, but once we are done, it will provide us all with more than we put in to it. If you would like to work on this project, please email contact information, area of interest and any ideas to 2006@whartonny.com.

The Wharton Alumni Network is our most powerful tool for business, social, career, and intellectual growth. Use it! Take the Call!

Kenneth Beck WG ‘87
Wharton Club of New York

Beck Enterprises
646-416-6991 kbeck@beckenterprisesllc.com