At the beginning of my presidency, the WCAA board and staff created a strategic framework with the following overarching goals:
- Increase alumnae engagement and participation;
- Develop and fortify campus partnerships to support the institutional priorities of the College;
- Demonstrate and promote the value of the WCAA internally and externally;
- Continually improve and strengthen the organizational structure and resources of the WCAA.
For the past three years, we have been working hard to reach these goals, and I thought it would be valuable to highlight two current initiatives: the WCAA’s effort to stimulate engagement among un- or under-engaged alumnae through the formation of the IDEA (Inclusion and Diversity Engaging Alumnae) Working Group, and initial efforts to measure our effectiveness through the use of metrics. I wrote about the IDEA Working Group in my last letter, and its work is well underway, identifying new avenues to both communicate with alumnae and encourage their engagement with each other and the College, thus supporting our first two goals. (For more, see “A Bright Idea.”)
I have not yet written about another of our initiatives, trying to measure our effectiveness, which is part of our effort to meet our second two strategic goals. As with other organizations, it is important for the WCAA to assess how well we support our mission, which is alumnae engagement. We therefore researched best practices in higher education for calculating alum engagement and adopted the most widely accepted methodology to calculate Wellesley’s alumnae engagement score.
There are three aspects of engagement that are considered reasonably measurable: Do alumnae attend? Do they volunteer? Do they give? Because our alumnae engage in so many ways—for example, interviewing prospective students, attending club events, giving to the College—it is nearly impossible to capture everything on an annual basis. So we have initially focused on collecting reliable data for the most important connections alumnae make in a given year.
Wellesley’s initial alumnae engagement score, based on “attend, volunteer, give” metrics, is 52 percent, a very competitive score. The scores for our peer colleges, like Williams, Amherst, and Smith, range from low 40s to high 60s. And, we know our score will improve. This was our first pass, and we weren’t able to capture all our data, such as mentoring through the Hive or engaging through social media. As we refine our process, we will share our engagement score with you through a succinct annual report in the magazine so that you may better understand the impact of alumnae engagement.
This is my last letter to you as president of the WCAA Board. It goes without saying that it has been an honor and a joy to be so closely involved with the world’s strongest network of women, and it is with enormous optimism for what our community can continue to do for each other and for all women that I pass the baton to my successor, Martha Goldberg Aronson ’89.
Georgia Murphy Johnson ’75, president
Correction: Erin Flannery Keith ’05 was one of three recipients of the WCAA’s Sed Ministrare Volunteer Award last fall. The citation summary printed in the magazine contained several errors: She became president in 2014, not 2012, and chaired the high-visibility Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 event in May 2016, not 2015. She was (and is), however, a linchpin of the Washington Wellesley Club, just as we reported.