Alumni Programs

200-word Position Statements

Konrad Alt ’81
Personal statement in favor

Reed's alumni population should be one of the college's greatest assets but its Alumni Association has struggled for years to achieve its full potential as a sponsor and promoter of constructive engagement between Reed alumni and the college. The alumni and the entire Reed community can and should expect more. We can do better. We should try. And we should keep trying until we get it right. I applaud and support the reform efforts and hope other alumni will do the same.

Bennett Barsk ’82
Personal statement in opposition

I was DC Alumni Chapter Chair (2012–2016), and a member (2014–2017) of the Alumni Board (ABD), during which I served as Outreach Committee Chair, responsible for promoting nationwide alumni engagement. I believe that the ABD erred considerably when it approved a recent constitutional change. Under the original Constitution, each chapter automatically had a seat at the ABD table. The proposed change instead creates a separate Chapter Council (including all the chapters), but only provides for at most three representatives on the ABD, thereby reducing the chapter presence on the ABD. The result: more bureaucracy and less chapter representation on the ABD.

In my opinion, this significantly diminishes the strength of the link between the ABD and the individual chapters, and solves no problem in particular, but instead creates other problems. For a chapter to be strong locally, as the DC Chapter is, it must be able to communicate with other chapters around the country (and the globe).  Such communication occurs most easily and comfortably at the regular ABD meetings. All chapters should have an equal right to representation at these meetings.

I plan to vote “NO” on the proposed change to the Reed Alumni Constitution.

‑Bennett Barsk ’82

David Baxter ’87
Personal statement in favor

I want to talk about intent. Some people engaged in this process have leveled accusations of it being unfair, or a “power grab,” or even “nefarious.” These accusations have been leveled against staff and fellow Board members. These accusations are just plain ridiculous. My observations over the last 2+ years on the Board show dedicated alums making a difference.

Now I want to talk about actual effects:

  • Create increased Alumni Participation.
  • Move the Board from a reporting agency to a change agency.
  • Open Chapter opportunities by freeing Chapters from the dated, irrelevant rules
  • Fix outdated communication methods, permitting modern tools.

Finally, I want to talk about process. The opponents offered only two alternatives to the one passed by the AB. The first of these was more a moderate proposal, but it was removed by the author from consideration. The second, supported by some, not all, Chapter leaders, was replete with problems, not the least of which was expanding the Executive Committee (forcing more work on Committee Chairs). Eighty percent of the current Board supported the amendments. Surely the Board is in the best position to understand how it might better be organized?



I urge you to vote YES.

Jessica L. Benjamin ’93
Personal statement in opposition

Please join me in voting “NO” to amending the Reed Alumni Board’s constitution. In particular, I object to removing the many chapter chairs that want to contribute to the Board.

If I hadn’t been a chapter chair, I would not have served on the Board later and Reed would not have benefited from my volunteer work such as sitting on the steering committee for AFR. The somewhat last minute proposed amendment does not take many things into account about chapter leadership, for instance for the first year or even year and a half after the passage of the amendments, the provisions seem to mean that the chapters will have NO representation on the board.

Why alienate chapter chairs who want to be engaged Reed Alumni Board volunteers?

This plan is an attempt to fix something that is not broken. It has alienated several chapter chairs who have already quit and that is a huge loss to Reed.

Connie Brand ’78
Personal statement in opposition

As the AB representative from the SF Bay Area Chapter since 2012 I strongly object to the proposed constitutional amendments.

If passed, Chapter representation will be reduced by 2/3, and the large majority of the Alumni Board will remain undemocratically selected, “vetted” by an elite Nominating Committee. Direct Alumni participation is already limited because the Board does not perform its duty to convene an Alumni Association meeting annually. Voting for candidates does not occur if no more than one candidate is “nominated” per position.

Chapters are essential to Alumni outreach and participation and for many are an important local opportunity to meet Reedies in real life. Chapter events are organized and funded out-of-pocket by volunteers. The proposed new organization only equals more bureaucracy, further distancing alumni from the College. Historically, College support for Chapter activity has been woefully inadequate, and without funding. I seriously doubt staff could logistically support a new board.

Over a year has been wasted on this proposal at a cost of countless staff and consultant time, creating acrimony, a loss of volunteer leadership, and morale.

Learn more: https://reedalumni.blogspot.com/2018/12/statement-of-opponents-to-proposed.html

Respectfully,

Connie Brand ’78

Kristen M. Earl ’05
Personal statement in favor

I believe in the majority decision of the alumni board (AB) and support the proposed changes to the governance documents. I’ve served on the AB and affiliated committees on and off for over 10 years. In that time I’ve witnessed the development of the AB as it responds to the changing needs of alumni and students. As part of my service to the board as Vice President I took a deep dive into the (then) current and historical governance documents of the AB. Governance changes are a part of the board. I’ve witnessed the multi-year review of the AB’s governance documents and difficult conversations about what the board is, has been, and would like to be. Due to the diligence and the work put in by current and past AB members and volunteers the proposed changes have my support.

Kristen M. Earl ’05
Past President Reed College Alumni Association
AB At-large Member 2007–10
AB Nominations Committee 2010–11
Reed College Oral History Project Chapter Coordinator 2008–10
AB Executive Committee 2013–17
Babson Society Outstanding Volunteer Award 2017

Anthony H Fisher ’80
Personal statement in favor

As a Past President, I had the privilege of serving four years on the AB. I fully endorse the proposed changes. As currently structured, the Board already is and will become increasingly unwieldy, as new chapters are created and more representatives would thereby be added to the AB. In my tenure, Chapter Chairs were not assigned other Board tasks as their workload was already ample. By separating the two functions, but providing for three Chapter representatives on the Board, the changes mirror the effective approach used with Alumni Trustees, who bring Alumni Association input to Trustees, and report back to the AB on Trustee matters. The changes also provide an appropriate forum for Chapters to share their experiences with each other, without burdening 90-minute Board meetings with the need to shoe-horn as many as 11 individual Chapter reports into already crowded AB agendas. Similarly, Chapters will enjoy a forum without the severe time limits forced upon Chapter reports, discussion and debate under the current structure. As Reed's Chapters continue to grow in number, this elastic and representative arrangement is a win-win for Chapters, the Alumni Board, and the Alumni Association as a whole.

Scott Foster ’77
Personal statement in favor

As the author of the original proposal to restructure the Alumni Board Constitution and Bylaws, I would like to emphasize that this concept was developed by a group of former AB Presidents, in a September 2015 strategy session initiated by Alumni Relations Director Mike Teskey. Mike’s desire—with the group’s concurrence—was to move toward aligning and strengthening college staff support of Chapter leaders and other AB committees (e.g. Young Alumni, Diversity and Inclusion, Reed Career Alliance), and create more opportunities for alumni participation without growing the board to an unmanageable size. Each of the committees, including the Chapter Leaders organized as a committee, would continue to have representation on the Alumni Board; the only difference would be that not every member of every committee would have a seat on the Alumni Board. This would allow Alumni Board leadership to focus on strategy and intergroup coordination, rather than continue the historical practice of a quarterly reporting session.

It bears noting that the subsequent proposal I drafted and circulated was supported by consensus of the former Presidents; the current Alumni Board spent over a year developing the amendments before us, and last June voted to approve them with an 80% majority.

David Hardy ’71
Personal statement in favor

I favor the proposed changes to the constitution and by-laws of the Alumni Board. I believe these changes will make the Alumni Board more productive by providing clearer goals from the college administration. The past deliberations of the board have had a tendency to become directionless and meandering. The changes are not designed to minimize the effectiveness of the local chapters. Local chapters remain the essential mechanism for preserving the bond among Reed alumni and their commonly shared interest. But the Alumni Board requires leadership from the College to help convert that local chapter enthusiasm into productive effort supporting the College.

Leslie Vickers Jones ’83
Personal statement in opposition

The chapters are a key point of connection for alumni and the college. Distancing, marginalizing and disenfranchising the chapters is short sighted. Recent changes in the structure and staffing of alumni programs has greatly depersonalized relationships with the college. The alumni board and the college should act to strengthen chapter leadership and support. Removing chapter leaders from the board, and adding a committee layer will dilute the strength of connection between the college and the chapters.

James Kahan ’64
Personal statement in opposition

My objection to the proposed Alumni Association (AA) constitutional changes is informed by my highly active volunteer participation, including service on the Alumni Board of Directors (ABD). I helped write the group statement in opposition, and here add further objections.

The self-perpetuation of the ABD solely through the closely-selected Nominating Committee is anti-democratic; instead, the AA as a whole should choose its representatives in as transparent and democratic a manner as possible. A way to accomplish this is to use modern communications technology to hold an annual ranked-choice election for:

  • One alumni trustee to serve a four-year term,
  • One member of the ABD Executive Committee to serve a four-year term, and
  • Five at-large members of the ABD, each to serve a three-year term.

Alumni wishing to serve would submit a short statement of why they wish to do so; they might possibly also be asked to name up to ten people who endorse their candidacy.

“Alignment of interests”—used to justify the proposed changes—should be accomplished by coordination of bottom-up ideas instead of top-down diktats. Indeed, to be faithful to the AA’s mission, such coordination should be the primary function of the ABD.

Paul Alan Levy ’72
Personal statement in opposition

My eleven years on the Alumni Board (“AB”) teach me that each alumni chapter gains from sitting on AB, and both other AB members and college staff have much to gain from having experienced representatives of every chapter at AB meetings, commenting on plans under discussion (and finding local volunteers!).  It is no surprise that so many chapter chairs, alumni board presidents, and other alumni leaders (even former staff) oppose these changes.

The amendments were not needed to solve any real problem, except “streamlining” the AB (while ignoring alternate approaches) and one illegitimate concern — an effort to keep central control over selecting the AB members in the hands of an unelected few, instead of allowing mere alumni association members (in chapters) to participate in the selection. Indeed, although the original justification for eliminating full chapter representation was to ensure that AB membership was synced to the college’s staff’s priorities, alumni often have priorities that differ from college staff.

Finally, a drafting error  that resulted from a final rush to pass these changes means that the AB will have no chapter representation for the first 18 months if these amendments are adopted.

Blog posts hyperlinked above elaborate several points.

Eira Long May ’08
Personal statement in favor

TL;DR: Voting YES will make both the Alumni Board (AB) and the chapters more focused and effective, allowing us to do a better job of supporting Reedies locally and globally.

More: I wholeheartedly support the proposed amendments to the Alumni Board (AB) constitution. These amendments were drafted over a period of years by thoughtful, committed AB volunteers in an effort to better serve Reed’s growing alumni community, and were passed 20 to five in June.

Chapter leaders (CLs) fill invaluable roles. Far from dismissing chapter leaders’ contributions or limiting their ability to serve the Reed community, these amendments will improve the functionality and efficacy of both the AB and the chapters.

The AB’s work is evolving: We want to build stronger relations with young alumni; meet the needs and amplify the voices of underrepresented Reedies; and grow into an effective, dynamic resource for all alumni. The AB and the chapters will do a better job of serving Reedies under the new amendments. Please join me and the majority of the AB in voting YES.

Eira Long May ’08
At-Large Member, Alumni Board

Bill Nicholson ’78
Personal statement in opposition

I am writing to urge rejection of the proposed amendments to the Reed College Alumni Association’s Constitution.

See the statement of opponents: https://reedalumni.blogspot.com/2018/12/statement-of-opponents-to-proposed.html

  • Amending a Constitution is a major step which should not be undertaken absent compelling evidence that the existing document is hopelessly flawed. The proponents of the changes have not presented such evidence.
  • The major effect of the proposed Constitutional changes would be the anti-democratic disenfranchisement of the Chapters. Disenfranchisement would be the result of reducing Chapter representation on the Alumni Board. Further, overworked Chapter heads would become members of a new, separate Chapters Committee - a new layer of bureaucracy.
  • Adoption of the proposed changes would result in a significant diminution of alumni control over the Alumni Association. Fewer Chapter member seats on the AB would mean fewer grass roots alumni would be able to serve on the Alumni Board.  Control of the Alumni Association would become even more concentrated in the hands of the Executive Committee - a self-appointed minority answerable only to themselves.

I urge rejection of the ill-advised and anti-democratic proposed changes in the Reed College Alumni Association’s Constitution.

Further information: https://reedalumni.blogspot.com/ 

Melissa Osborne ’13
Personal statement in favor

The alumni board is charged with fostering community and engagement amongst alumni, the college, and other members of the Reed community. This overarching goal dates back to the very first incarnation of the governing board of the Alumni Association (c.1915). And, while this goal has remained central over time, the Alumni Board has historically made changes to its structure and focus to better meet the shifting needs of the Reed community.

The proposed changes to the Alumni Board constitution are part of the current Board’s efforts to rise to the challenge of fostering community and engagement across the entire Reed community. Drawing on a three-year process of data-collection and exploration, the proposal prioritizes localized community building through the formation of the Chapter Steering Organization while also investing in the growth of broader initiatives that engage and support the entire Reed community.

We are at an exciting moment in the Board’s evolution. With the passage of the proposed changes we have an opportunity to respond to the needs and interests of today’s vibrant and diverse Reed community by becoming a more inclusive and effective alumni board that values and promotes engagement for all of Reed. I encourage you to Vote YES.

Jinyoung Park ’11
Personal statement in favor

The changes to the constitution are about organizing volunteers to allow more collaboration and support among volunteers who do similar work, as well as more focused support from the College. They are not about power or removing members from the Alumni Board.

Chapter volunteers benefit greatly from collaborating with other Chapter volunteers. Board members need time together to work on strategies for reaching all of our alumni, not just those who are in areas with recognized Chapters. Lumping both groups together has not worked well for either group.

The proposed changes recognize that there are many different ways to serve Reed alumni and are an effort to help volunteers do the work that we are passionate about, by creating structures that allow us to be more efficient and effective.

While there would no longer be an automatic seat for each of the recognized Chapters on the Alumni Board, three seats are reserved for Chapter volunteers, and in addition, anyone is encouraged to serve on the Alumni Board as an at-large member or an officer. Being a Chapter volunteer does not prevent one from serving on the Alumni Board to share one’s talent and time doing Alumni Board volunteer work.

Darlene Pasieczny ’01
Personal statement in favor

I was a Director during the three years that the Board conducted self-assessments of its governance and function. The entire Board agreed we could do better. Alumni benefit from local social activities, but we also have a larger, more diverse alumni community, with increasing interest in career-focused networking, young alumni outreach, and other national initiatives.

In voting YES, you join the majority of the current Board in voting to improve the function of the Board with these long-considered amendments.

A core group of alumni volunteers have dedicated years of service. But we also need to encourage new leaders, including young alumni, and make sure opportunities exist for alumni who want to give back.

That’s why term limits for all Board seats—including Chapter Directors—is important. It’s also why I support the structural change to focus on national initiatives, and creation of a new Chapter Steering Organization to focus on localized initiatives. Three Chapter Directors will serve on both as a liaison, similar to how Alumni Trustees already serve on the Alumni Board and Board of Trustees for a set term.

Current, experienced Board leadership believes the amendments will directly improve our function. Please vote YES.

Dylan Rivera ’95
Personal statement in favor

Vote Yes for a more inclusive, effective Alumni Board

In recent years, the Alumni Board has made great strides in coming up with strategic ways to engage alumni. These changes to the constitution will make it easier for all alumni to help meet important goals for the entire alumni community. They also give chapters more support, with their own steering committee with staff support, to focus on their particular needs.

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee has done tremendous work to make alumni engagement more accessible to alumni from underrepresented communities. The Multicultural Resource Center 25th Reunion activities in 2018 helped showcase alumni and created a forum for alumni of color to share their experiences from across many generations.

This committee and others on the Alumni Board could benefit from more alumni volunteers giving more hours each year to contact more alumni. But the current constitution limits committee membership to Alumni Board members. So, to serve on a committee, you must go through the nominations process or be selected as a chapter representative.

Join me in voting Yes, so we can create “ad hoc” board positions that would be available to all alumni who want to serve.

Lisa Saldana ’94
Personal statement in favor

I support the proposed amendments to the Alumni Board (AB) constitution, crafted by a group of dedicated, thoughtful, and intelligent AB volunteers, of whom I am privileged to currently lead as President. The amendments aim to adjust to Reed’s expanding and evolving alumni community. Following a rigorous and multi-year process, proposed amendments were developed, iteratively revised, voted on, and passed (20 to 5).

Some perceive the amendments to devalue the role of chapters and their leaders (CLs). Rather, the changes expand the reach of the AB to emphasize all alumni, while recognizing that region-specific leadership is key to alumni engagement. A bi-directional relationship between chapters and the AB is essential for the health of the community. CLs wanting to serve on the AB can through three reserved CL seats, or seeking at-large director and/or executive leadership positions, while those wanting local CL volunteerism without additional board responsibilities also can be involved.

I am excited for the opportunities the amendments afford including (a) commissioning new chapters to keep up with the evolving geography of Reedies (b) reaching a wider breadth of alumni for engagement, volunteerism, and community and (c) modernizing communication with technological advancements.

Please join me in voting YES.

John Sheehy ’82
Personal statement in favor

Vote Yes for a more inclusive, effective Alumni Board

I had the honor of facilitating, at the request of the college, a gathering of past presidents of the alumni association back in 2015 to conduct an assessment of the changing needs of alumni and the college, and to brainstorm ways to make the alumni board more effective going forward. In traditional Reed manner, it was an exchange of diverse perspectives and lively debate, but with one shared consensus—that the formation of the board as it has stood since by-law changes in the mid-90s is not serving the best interests of either the alumni nor the college.

This came from the collective wisdom who have had the honor to serve as presidents of the alumni association.

I believe that the proposed changes provide opportunities for more inclusiveness, connectivity to college affairs, committee empowerment, and responsiveness to alumni involvement and engagement than the current unwieldy and somewhat restrictive board governance model.

Like all new initiatives, it will require a period of experimenting and testing, and no doubt, further refinement. But to hold to the status quo is a recipe for continued ossification. Bring on the new!

Andrei Stephens ’08
Personal statement in favor

It seems the primary controversy is creating a new Chapter Steering Organization (CSO) and reducing the number of direct Alumni Board (AB) Chapter representatives. Here’s why I voted to change the structure of the Alumni Association leadership:

Living in Chapter cities (Portland, New York), near a “Chapter city” (Oxford, UK), and far from a Chapter (Detroit), I’ve felt varying degrees of Chapter presence. Chapters in my experience focus on camaraderie (TTT), and ‘life of the mind’ events (lectures, movies). I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Reedies, to have ongoing dialogue with alumni in my academic and professional areas, and to play ultimate frisbee with alumni.

Being in a Chapter city means more Reedies around—it’s often cited that 65% of alumni live in Chapter cities—but that doesn’t mean that Chapters serve the majority of alumni needs or that a majority of alumni participate. Chapters serve a vital role in the alumni association, but we must move beyond Chapters being synonymous with the association as a whole. The new CSO can focus on building Chapters, and the streamlined AB can build programs with Chapter representation. We should have more Chapters, doing more, but this should not dominate AB focus.

Carlie Stolz ’13
Personal statement in favor

If enough members of the Alumni Board feel that their old model wasn't helping them to reach their goals, then I support them in their effort to try something new. I would like to see Chapters go the way of Alumni Fundraising for Reed—that is, to find their own identity and thrive. Certainly, it's important for Chapters to have representation on the Board, but I disagree that their representation needs to include all Chapter Chairs. To my mind, having all of the Chapter Chairs on the Board is like having every AFR Steering Committee member on the Board: it's just not necessary. I believe that if these changes are not right for the Alumni Board and are not appropriately serving Reed, the Board can and will make adjustments. It's okay to try new things!

Elizabeth F. Jerison Terry ’82
Personal statement in opposition

As recently-resigned co-Chapter leader of SoCal, I urge you to vote NO on the proposed amendment to the Reed Alumni Board (ABD) constitution. I object strongly to the separation of chapter leadership from the ABD.

Being on the ABD and attending meetings enhanced my chapter leadership considerably. Rather than simply connecting with alumni, I benefited from cross-pollination of ideas that, on the surface, were unrelated to chapter work. I

  • maintained my Reed connection
  • engaged with current students
  • connected with staff and active alumni in broader areas
  • learned strategies to try to broaden the demographic of the chapter

As Chapter leader, I represented my chapter on ABD issues by asking members’ opinions; could be formalized.

Chapter leaders’ proposal to vote on unanimously acceptable changes was rejected.

The ABD decision to pass this amendment was not in the best interest of the college or alumni community:

  • Alienated motivated and active volunteers; 3 chapter leaders resigned in protest
  • No Bay Area leader
  • Cost the college unnecessary staff time and money to conduct the vote.

The proposed amendment hurts the college and alumni community. Please vote NO.

See: https://reedalumni.blogspot.com/

Elizabeth Jerison Terry ’82

Mike Teskey, Honorary Alumnus
Personal statement in favor

I support the proposed changes.

A number of years ago, I asked the past presidents of the alumni association to look at the board's current structure, reflect whether modifications were needed, and to possibly recommend changes. The current structure was created over 25 years ago, and an evaluation was prudent. I also provided a number of structural models from schools such as Pomona, Swarthmore, Oberlin, and Carleton. The past presidents spent the weekend discussing the question and recommended investigating the issue further, drafting a white paper on the question, and recommending actions. The proposed changes were inspired by how Carleton structures their array of alumni engagement and volunteer initiatives.

Chapters are the energy and backbone and are indispensable in my opinion. If you stripped everything away, you would want to keep two elements in place—geographic-based activities (chapters) and reunions (class year/chronologically based activities). But the alumni board wants to mature, grow, and organize in other ways too, and creating a structure where chapters will have support (arguably even more), yet other initiatives can more easily occur by virtue of having consistent membership over multiple years makes the most sense for meeting the future needs of the most alumni.

Amanda Waldroupe ’07
Personal statement in favor

I believe the proposal before us supports the Alumni Board’s mission of fostering alumni engagement and provides an unprecedented level of support for chapter chairs.

The Chapter Steering Organization, formed if this proposal is approved, will have its work cut out: helping start new chapters, reenergizing inactive ones, and identifying potential alumni for Reed’s growing alumni volunteer opportunities, including career networking and job shadowing. Achieving all this and other Alumni Board initiatives is too unwieldy for one group.

An analogy: I also serve as the board chair and president of the Oregon Society for Professional Journalists, Oregon’s largest journalism association. In addition, a second board focuses exclusively on statewide public records reform. If my board were responsible for pursuing these reforms, we would not be able to adequately perform other work we do throughout the year, which includes organizing and hosting workshops, trainings, an annual conference, and an annual contest. It is simply too much.

Both boards do work integral to Oregon journalism. One is no more important than the other. Similarly, this proposal creates two distinct, yet complimentary, organizations for alumni to better focus their volunteer time on issues they care deeply about, for the sake of every Reedie.

Stephany Watson ’82
Personal statement in favor

Research and personal experience show that boards larger than 27 members are too large to be effective. The alumni board's study of the proposal is thorough, and merits support, because it recognizes this procedural truth. And committees will continue to have important input without snarling ongoing alumni board work. I am a former alumni board member, secretary, vice president, two-term alumni board president, one-term former alumni board president, and a former alumni trustee and Babson Award recipient. Plus I love Reed.

Marcia Yaross ’73
Personal statement in opposition

My objection to the proposed constitutional amendments is informed by nearly a decade on the Alumni Board: as Outreach Committee Chair, Nominations Committee member, Alumna Trustee, plus chapter steering committee member. While I applaud the proponents’ desire to improve the AB’s effectiveness, I find the following troublesome:

  • Absence of a clear “problem statement” makes it difficult to assess whether the proposed changes will help. While the “Proposal” states the “goal is to increase alignment,” what is misaligned and how the proposal will solve the undefined problem are unclear.
  • While the “Proposal” calls for “all alumni board members [to] have term limits,” it only limits terms for Chapter Directors and Alumni Trustees. The latter limit derives from the Reed Board of Trustees governance rules, but the former appears arbitrary.
  • Removal of most chapter leaders from AB membership has alienated several hard-working, committed chapter volunteers at a time when other controversies still reverberate within the alumni community. I recommend the AB work to heal rifts in our community through more inclusive, not exclusionary, actions.
  • Alternatively, Nominations Committee focus on matching skills needed for each AB position, plus training/coaching on effective meeting management, may better address AB effectiveness concerns.

Respectfully,

Marcia Yaross, ’73