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
ore 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.
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.
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."