February 9, 2009

Alumni Hope to Increase Early Involvement Despite Recession

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The Cornell Association of Class Officers held its annual meeting this past weekend to discuss the University’s past, present and future.
The Mid-Winter Meeting, which was held in Philadelphia this year, is one of the largest alumni training programs for Cornell class officers, attracting over 600 people. Founded in 1905, CACO’s mission is to “assist class leaders in organizing their activities and managing their alumni classes,” according to their website.
At this year’s meeting, alumni involvement despite the economic environment was a major topic of discussion.
“[President David] Skorton talked about the importance of the alumni to set an example,” said Liz Rappaport ’09, who will be a class officer for the class of 2009 upon graduating. “It’s a lot harder economic time now but we still need alumni and need to help them find other ways to contribute to Cornell. It was a great place to talk about the role the class officers are playing in helping the university to get back on its feet.”
While large meetings consisted of speeches from Skorton and Susan Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services, smaller discussion group focused collaboration between the old and the new.
“CACO has made a concerted effort to have older classes mentor younger classes,” Rappaport added.
Last year, the class of 2007 received a $10,000 donation from older classes for events to usher in a new class of alumni. Furthermore, a new five-year plan put forth by Cornell’s Alumni Affairs emphasizes the importance of getting young alumni and students involved with alumni activities, building stronger and wider networks throughout the Cornell community.
While often times, Cornell alumni do not get involved in University affairs until 15 to 20 years after graduation, Cornell’s new initiative hopes to bridge this gap by approaching young alumni and even current students so that they never lose their link to the University.
Rappaport was encouraged to become part of CACO because she saw this as another opportunity to continue her involvement as a Cornellian.
“I have done a lot during my time here at Cornell,” Rappaport said. “I worked on Slope Day, played field hockey and joined a sorority. This is just another way to be an active member of the Cornell community, even after I graduate.”