Photo by Webb Chappell
I learned a lot in my four years at Wellesley, and I find myself immersed in a new learning experience now that I am back on campus. While faculty were the primary influence on my education as a student, my education this time around has been facilitated by alumnae, who have generously shared their perspectives and experiences.
Club, class, and Shared Identity Group (SIG) leaders have taken time from their busy schedules to meet with me and help me think about how we organize and support our alumnae and strategically engage their support of Wellesley. I’ve been grateful to alumnae who have picked up the phone to talk through program concepts or taken the time to share their ideas, concerns, and vision for our Alumnae Association in 2020 and beyond. Volunteers across the country have generously opened their homes to me and my colleagues. And in what other role would four women who previously held the position reach out by letter, email, and phone to offer their support and wisdom? Of course, on top of these outstanding individual alumnae, the WCAA Board spends hours, both on campus and by phone, guiding the work of the Alumnae Association.
My rough estimate is that I’ve met about 500 alumnae so far, which is just over 1 percent of you.
Here are a few things I know about our alumnae population:
- There are approximately 35,000 of us.
- 2,172 alumnae attended reunion in 2019.
- 1,100 of you volunteer in key roles with clubs, classes, or SIGs.
- 42.5 percent of alums made a financial donation to the College last year.
- 5 percent of us have joined the Hive, Wellesley’s online networking platform.
- About 30 percent of us are millennials, born between 1981 and 1996.
- 13 percent of the most recently graduated class are first-generation college students.
- Wellesley alumnae live in 50 states and 116 countries.
While these are interesting data points, there are plenty of things I do not know, such as:
- How many of the total alumnae population are underrepresented minorities?
- How many of our alumnae identify as LGBTQIA+?
- What percentage of the total alumnae population are first-generation college students?
We have not always collected this information in a consistent or systematic way. So there are knowledge gaps—some larger than others—that we’d like to improve.
As admission and student records practices have changed over time, our most recent alumnae records have improved. With each new technological improvement that the College undertakes, including new customer relationship management systems in admission (2016), student life (2019), and alumnae/development (2020), we have more robust student data, better record retention, and, four years after a student enrolls, more complete alumnae information.
Demographic data are just the baseline. They help inform the questions I’d like to answer that will help the WCAA pursue mission-critical questions such as:
- Are we engaging alumnae across all demographics?
- How can Wellesley show up in more relevant ways in the lives of our alumnae?
- How can we foster meaningful connections between students and alumnae?
In fall 2020, Wellesley will launch a survey that will help us learn more about our alumnae and the impact of a Wellesley education. A survey should not be confused with a census. It cannot be expected to fill in all the gaps, but with a strong response rate, it should move us in a direction that will help us better know and serve our alumnae population.
I look forward to sharing survey results with our alumnae community; publishing results and digging deeper into specific areas will be a critical piece of this work.
If you have an email address on record with the College, you will get this survey, and I hope you will respond.
Now is the time to update your information with the College so that you have the opportunity to participate in the survey. Visit alum.wellesley.edu and click on “Update your profile” to log in and update your information. While you are there, please update the rest of your profile information so that we can continue to improve our records. You can also update your contact preferences by calling 1-800-339-5233 or by emailing email@example.com.
I am grateful to you, my educators, for helping me continue to learn and improve the work that we do in the Alumnae Association!