Mount Holyoke Strategic Planning Process

Commission Formed to Explore Collaborative Governance Model for Alumnae Association and Mount Holyoke College

In February, the Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees voted to form a commission to explore the feasibility of alternative structures for collaboration between the College and the Association that fit the unique needs of Mount Holyoke. Lynn Pasquerella ’80, president of Mount Holyoke College, and Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67, president of the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, will co-chair the commission, which will also include:

  • V. Radley Emes ’00, chair of the Association Nominating Committee, Alumnae Association Board of Directors
  • Ashanta Evans-Blackwell ’95, clerk, Alumnae Association Board of Directors and former member of the Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees
  • Shannon Gurek, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer, Mount Holyoke College
  • Nancy Bellows Perez ’76, interim executive director of the Alumnae Association and former director at large of the Alumnae Association Board of Directors
  • Sally Sutherland, senior lecturer in English and former senior advisor to the President, Mount Holyoke College
  • Marija Tesla ’11, former president of the Mount Holyoke College Student Government Association and former member of the Mount Holyoke College Board of Trustees

Establishing a commission grew out of the College’s strategic planning process, which included the formation of six working groups charged with investigating different issues and challenges, including collaborative governance between the Alumnae Association and the College. As part of the work, the group gathered publicly available information about alumni relations structures at seven sibling colleges (Amherst, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley) and went on to conduct in-depth interviews with relevant key people at five of those schools (Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley).

The benchmarking exercise was especially enlightening. ​The working group learned t​here is a wide range of models for organizational collaboration, with each college developing its own structure for integrated, collaborative partnership for managing alumnae relations​, ​resulting in enhanced opportunities for the alumnae voice to be included in goal-setting and planning. The benchmarking also highlighted the importance of staff at the association and staff at the college meeting at the same decision-making table in order to understand the interconnectedness of their work, allow for development and timely execution of joint strategies and objectives, and better leverage resources, all of which results in better overall outcomes.

The working group recommended establishing a commission to design a collaborative governance model that redefines how the work of alumnae relations is done on campus; a model that truly enables the College and the Association to have a more unified approach in engaging its large and diverse alumnae constituency with a focus on five key areas ripe for improved collaboration and coordination: 1) event management, 2) communications and marketing, 3) information management, 4) volunteer management, and 5) budgetary transparency.

Working Group Members

  • Chau Ly ’97, chair, College trustee, Strategic Planning Committee member
  • Carly Kite, director of strategic marketing and communications at the College
  • Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67, president of the Alumnae Association, College trustee, Strategic Planning Committee member
  • Eva Paus, director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and professor of economics
  • Nancy Bellows Perez ’76, recently appointed interim executive director of the Alumnae Association and former director at large of the Alumnae Association Board of Directors
  • Jill Stern ’84, director of The Mount Holyoke Fund and Advancement Communications
  • Sally Sutherland, senior lecturer in English

The commission will work over the next few months and make recommendations to the College Board of Trustees and the Association Board of Directors. Some alumnae have asked about the search for a new executive director of the Association. The Association plans to put a search committee in place following the commission’s work so that there is a clear understanding of the expectations for the position and the necessary skill sets and experience.

We are very eager to hear alumnae thoughts and reactions to this work.  Please send your comments to thecommission@mtholyoke.edu. You may also review our Frequently Asked Questions.

7 responses to “Mount Holyoke Strategic Planning Process”

  1. Gail Roth Meister says:

    Questions: Are you distinguishing how alumnae relations occur on campus from how they occur in other venues, including virtually? What are the implications of this thinking?

    Comments: Collaboration in terms of sharing information and coordinating work toward common goals is necessary and good. However, if it means absorbing the AA into College administration, I worry about maintaining an authentically independent alumnae focus, which I believe to be a valuable ongoing asset to the College. That said, I appreciate the thoroughness and transparency of the Commission’s process.

  2. Lauren says:

    The independence of the Alumnae Association has been touted as point of pride for as long as I can remember. I hope this commission will operate transparently and communicate candidly with the Alumnae about what we lose if we go down this path.

  3. Debbie Wexler says:

    The goals are spot on, and long overdue. Alums are MHC’s best ambassadors and best funding stream. I’ve always been amazed there has been any separation at all. As a former reunion chair I can say that event management as the #1 goal is critical. The AA’s and college’s approach to alum events is mediocre at best and does little to help foster increased engagement by alums. We can do much better in this area.

  4. I hope the result will produce true collaboration. I’d be happy to see the alumnae association become part of the college’s structure. I don’t believe the separation serves anyone well.

  5. Betsy Clarke says:

    I am interested in the first sentence. In what ways are Mount Holyoke’s needs unique?

  6. Priscilla morse Huston '64 says:

    Wonderful news! Looking forward to hearing more.

  7. Jamie Hewitt says:

    Delighted to hear this – collaborative skills & models are increasingly important in our globally connected world. Learning by doing and providing an environment where students, alumnae, faculty, staff and other organizations with whom we partner can see the evolution of new ways of working together is one way for Mt Holyoke to differentiate itself and improving its own operating environment.

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