September 16, 2012

Cornell Ramps Up Efforts to Connect With West Coast Alumni

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In response to growing demand, Cornell has begun to increase efforts to connect with its more than 29,000 alumni on the West Coast.

The University’s West Coast presence is second only to its Northeastern presence, according to a University press release. Additionally, 13.5-percent of the Class of 2016 hails from the West Coast  —  a 1.1- percent increase from the percentage of West Coast students in the Class of 2015, according to the press release.

“The timing is right and we have been working with volunteer leaders out on the West Coast for a long time in order to understand what their needs are,” said Richard Banks ’72, vice president of the Division of Alumni Affairs and Development. “There are demands from them to increase programming out there. We are trying to be responsive to that need.”

Banks said that, through the initiative, the University will increase the number of professionals and faculty working in California, Alaska and Hawaii, as well as British Columbia, Canada.

“We’ve had people out there for a while, but we haven’t had as many,” he said. “We’ve increased the number of … employees working on the West Coast in efforts to bring on permanent engagement [with West Coast residents].”

Banks said the project has received positive responses from both alumni along the West Coast and University trustees.

“They are very pleased with the fact that we are enlisting more resident professionals to work on our behalf,” he said.

One specific program designed to increase the University’s presence on the West Coast is Cornell Silicon Valley, Banks said. Created in 2000, CSV was developed by the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development to allow Cornellians in the San Francisco Bay Area to lend their time and expertise to Cornell by speaking at professional development and networking events to audiences of Cornell alumni and parents.

Ashley Binter ’97, associate director of CSV, said she is enthusiastic about efforts to increase Cornell’s West Coast presence.

“There will be more support for the over 12,000 Cornell alumni, parents and friends in the Bay Area,” she said. “The expansion is phenomenal because it will bring more visibility of the University to the Bay Area and throughout the West Coast and it will strengthen the region’s relationship with [Cornell].”

The University has also hired full-time employees in Southern California and Seattle to help expand Cornell’s presence, Binter said.

Hannah Lee ’15 of California lauded the initiative, citing the necessity of connecting with Cornellians on the West Coast.

“These efforts are really wonderful,” she said. “This new initiative to further bring Cornell to the West Coast is very much needed and will increase our representation.”

Banks said the expansion’s prospects seem positive thus far.

“For now, the increased West Coast focus will provide avenues for furthering relations between Cornell alumni, family and friends and the institution,” Banks said.

Original Author: Daniel Cohanpour

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