October 2010 cover SCAN"St. Catherine University St. Catherine University
October 2010
 
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Come Home to St. Catherine

St. Kate's new Department of Alumnae Relations promises connections and opportunities for all alumnae.

BY THERESA MCHUGH PALMERSHEIM '72

More programs for alumnae in and beyond the Twin Cities, greater opportunities to mentor students and learn from professors, broader influence with St. Kate's leadership: These are among the benefits alumnae will realize now that the St. Catherine University Alumnae Association has become part of the University's Department of Alumnae Relations.

The change took place September 1, following a University-Alumnae Task Team recommendation, unanimous agreement by the association's board of directors and a vote by alumnae to dissolve the association's independent, nonprofit status.

Ruth Haag Bromback '60, Marjorie Mathison Hance '70, Andrea Lee, IHM and Linda Theis Thrasher '88

It's official! Signing the documents to merge the former Alumnae Association into the University are (clockwise, from top left): Alumnae Relations Director Ruth Haag Brombach '60; Vice President for External Relations Marjorie Mathison Hance '70; President Andrea Lee, IHM; and Alumnae Executive Committee Chair Linda Theis Thrasher '88.

The final vote was 1,516 in favor and 34 against the proposal.

"An idea takes root and grows when the time is right," says Alumnae Relations Director Ruth Haag Brombach '60, the former executive director of the Alumnae Association. "The University is developing a new structure, and we have the opportunity for alumnae to influence and be part of that structure."

The University is planning many ways to serve alumnae differently, including major new initiatives in continuing professional education, distance learning and graduate programs. Alumnae can help shape which continuing education programs are available to them for professional development. They will have new access to these programs through distance learning and will be able to earn graduate credit for many of them.

Alumnae chapters will enjoy greater support both inside and outside of the University. Even in the Twin Cities, where most alumnae events are concentrated, alumnae express interest in having more interaction with one another.

The Career Development office is planning to enhance alumnae mentoring of current students and to support alumnae in their own job transitions. The office will launch a new web page for posting advanced positions of interest to our alums. And Global Studies is exploring options to engage alumnae in international education.

New University, new structure

On June 1, 2009, the College of St. Catherine became St. Catherine University with all of its academic programs organized into four schools (the academic homes) and three colleges (which provide doors for admission). Previously, academic departments were divided into three groups headed by three deans. But these were administrative structures only, with little interaction externally.

alumnae map

The New Academic View
of St. Catherine University:
hover over this image to view a larger version.
For more information about programs of study, go to stkate.edu/schools

The new schools and their deans are charged with significantly enhancing engagement with external constituents — including alumnae — and with the development of continuing education and graduate programs that will enhance alumnae's professional development.

The schools will also provide new ways for alumnae to connect with faculty and to learn about critical political, social and cultural issues.

"The Department of Alumnae Relations is about engaging alumnae in new and significant ways," says Vice President for External Relations Marjorie Mathison Hance '70. "That can happen because we have more parts of the University involved and more people whose job it is to make things happen. It's a tremendous moment for alumnae in the history of our institution."

The entire community benefits when alumnae play an integral role in the life of St. Kate's, she adds. "Great things happen when people are engaged, and we're counting on alumnae to help shape that vision."

Stay in touch: If you have questions or concerns, or would like to nominate yourself or someone else for the Alumnae Council of 200, contact Ruth Haag Brombach '60 or call 651-690-6666.

 

Good Questions

SCAN talked recently with Ruth Haag Brombach '60 and Marjorie Mathison Hance '70 about the new Department of Alumnae Relations.

Who will staff and fund the department? Staffing will increase significantly, with a greater emphasis on lifelong learning, career development and chapter involvement. The University, which funded two-thirds of the Alumnae Association in the past, has enhanced the budget for alumnae-related work. The Department of Alumnae Relations will report to the Division of External Relations.

What can the Department of Alumnae Relations do under the University structure that couldn't be done as an Alumnae Association? A centralized Alumnae Association worked well when the College of St. Catherine itself was centralized. But it became harder for one office to coordinate or instigate outreach to alumnae once St. Kate's had grown to 45 academic departments and multiple degree programs.

Now, with the University's new deans on board, it's time to integrate alumnae at the same time as the four schools are being structured. Each school will formulate ways to reach out and engage alumnae, including opportunities to dialogue with faculty and participate in professional continuing education programs. Each school also will have an advisory council, and many of the members will be alumnae.

What will be retained? This is an important question. We will maintain or enhance programs that alumnae love, such as:

  • Lifelong learning classes
  • Reunions
  • SCAN magazine
  • Conversation with Books
  • Booked for the Evening
  • Memorial Masses
  • Networking opportunities
  • Nurses' luncheon
  • Affinity groups
  • Chapter events
  • Fundraising initiatives, such as
    the sale of ornaments and scarves

Is there a downside to this new arrangement? The perceived disadvantages are loss of autonomy and cost-cutting. In fact, the University has increased alumnae office staffing and budgets, and the activities of the new department will be bigger and bolder than ever.

Will there still be an Alumnae Board of Directors? No. The current Alumnae Association board will function as the Executive Committee of the soon-to-be-formed Alumnae Council of 200.

What is the Council of 200? The Council will ensure that the alumnae voice is strong, heard and integrated into the work of the University. Council members will advise and interact with the schools and co-curricular programs to support such activities as mentoring and internships, as well as functional areas like career development, fundraising, admissions and recruiting.

The Alumnae Council of 200 will be a broadly representative group of alumnae representing all areas of St. Catherine University. The vision is that alumnae will be invited or nominated — or can nominate themselves — to participate in the Council, which will meet annually. The Executive Committee of the group likely will be elected and meet monthly.

The Council should be up and running by the fall of 2011.