March 5, 2003

Alumni to Host Trustee Town Hall Meeting

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In an effort to increase awareness of the Cornell Board of Trustees’ Alumni Affairs Steering Committee (AASC) and their aims to increase minority alumni involvement, the AASC will hold a “Trustee Town Hall Meeting” tonight in the Statler Ballroom from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

“A priority of the Cornell Board of Trustees’ Alumni Affairs Steering Committee (AASC) is to encourage greater participation of minority alumni in the life of Cornell, and in particular to identify minority alumni to serve in leadership capacities for Cornell,” said Funa Maduka ’04, student elected trustee.

According to Alicia Torrey, director of minority alumni programs, the AASC developed The Minority Alumni Initiative Implementation Committee (MAIIC) in September 2002 to address issues facing minority alumni and make recommendations on future improvements in the alumni program.

“MAIIC was formed because it came to the attention of the Alumni Affairs Steering Committee that minority alumni participation was particularly lower than that of other groups. Realizing the importance of incorporating all alumni into Cornell-related organizations, the committee was formed to study this problem and strategize a program to increase minority alumni participation,” Maduka said.

Torrey said that in an effort to learn more about what changes could be made to help minority alumni and students, the committee established focus groups of alumni and students.

“We had several focus groups across the country,” Torrey said. These groups included one made up of student leaders at Cornell.

According to Torrey, “out of that [focus groups] we came up with a number of recommendations.” One of the findings of the committee was that students and alumni were not familiar with the roles that trustees played. She added, “they weren’t aware that there were minority trustees.”

To allow students and alumni to learn firsthand of the trustees and their involvement with the MAIIC, the “town hall meeting” was planned.

“The focus of the discussion will be on Cornell’s efforts to increase the participation of minority alumni in all aspects of alumni affairs –particularly in leadership positions and the impact these efforts can have on current and future Cornellians,” said the invitation sent to students by Maduka and Elizabeth D. Moore ’75, chair of the MAIIC,

According to Maduka, there are many organizations that alumni can become involved in.

“Organizations such as the Cornell Black Alumni Association, Cornell Native American Alumni Association, Cornell Asian American Alumni Association, Cornell Latino Alumni Association, Cornell Council and President Council of Cornell Women all present perfect opportunities for students of all backgrounds to participate actively after graduation,” she said.

Six trustees will be speaking, including chair of the board of trustees Peter C. Meinig, who will speak “briefly on the board of trustees and its roles,” according to Torrey. Susan Murphy, vice president of student and academic affairs, will moderate the event.

The structure for the event includes presentations from each of the trustees, followed by a question and answer session.

“We’ve asked students to submit preliminary questions,” Torrey said.

“We wanted to make sure that students got the opportunity to answer the questions that they desired answered as well as hear what trustees had to say about issues concerning minorities while at Cornell and after Cornell,” Maduka said.

Currently, a number of students have pre-registered to attend the event.

“Our student numbers are about sixty right now,” Torrey said.

Additionally, according to Torrey, “we have invited all of the trustees in the area as well.”

Students participating in the discussion will also be invited to a networking event with the trustees beginning at 8:30 in the ballroom foyer.

Four of the six trustees speaking are minorities. The alumni board, according to Torrey, is 15.6% minority alumni. In the past, Cornell has prided itself on having one of the highest trustee minority rates at a university.

Torrey said that it was important that alumni be aware of the opportunities for them to become involved in the alumni association.

“It’s important to Cornell that we involve everyone in alumni activities,” she said.

According to Maduka, “I hope that students will realize that the potential to change things for the better still exists after you graduate, and does not disappear with the receipt of a diploma. Cornell needs all of its alumni to participate actively; that participation is what makes this such a great institution.”

She added, “I hope the students will see how much the trustees truly care about the issues facing minority students.”

Archived article by Kate Cooper