Just last weekend, I had the opportunity and great privilege to represent the Association of Rice Alumni (ARA) at numerous homecoming events, where I met an incredibly diverse array of Rice alumni of all ages, backgrounds and regions. It was very rewarding to get to know so many of you, to hear your stories about Rice and to learn what you are looking for in your alumni community. This kind of open feedback and connection is critical to our mission as ARA Board members. We are extensions of the greater alumni body, and the more we learn about each other, the more we can strengthen the sense of connection that is the lifeblood of the ARA.
Along these lines, I’d like to give you an opportunity to get to know the incredibly diverse collection of 28 people who make up Rice’s alumni board and who are so eager to do all they can to enhance and enrich the lives of Rice’s alumni, students and parents. My colleagues hail from around the world and represent every aspect of the Rice community. They are bright, dedicated and — not surprisingly — they exhibit that certain sense of humor that is so characteristic of the Rice personality. Over the course of the next few newsletters, we will be introducing you to the members of your alumni board; to give you a flavor for their perspectives and stories, we’ve asked a collection of current members to share their bios and a few interesting or amusing observations about their Rice experiences. Please take a moment to click on the link to the right to learn a bit about a few of these interesting folks, and stay tuned for profiles of additional board members and for more updates about the work of the ARA Board.
In the meantime, I want to share some quick facts about the alumni board that you might find interesting:
- Board members are charged with representing the alumni body’s interests to the university and representing the ARA to our fellow Rice alumni. One recent example: as part of our engagement with the Initiative for Students, the board advocated for a more seamless way to get tapped into the mentoring and volunteering community at Rice, specifically around professional development. This engagement helped inspire the creation of Sallyportal.org, Rice’s new professional networking website. I’m proud to say that 100% of the board is on the site, and many are already using this resource to connect with and mentor Rice students! More importantly, in the two weeks since Sallyportal was launched, it has clearly been embraced as a networking resource for the Rice community and has already attracted more than 4,000 registrants.
- Beyond our committees and board meetings, which are an important function of the board, we enjoy networking with new graduates at the New Alumni Picnic or over lunch, passing out Rice Rings, organizing happy hours, recognizing distinguished and meritorious alumni, engaging in candid and collegial dialogue with senior Rice officials about important issues affecting the Rice community, and otherwise serving as some of Rice’s loudest and proudest ambassadors.
- Each year, seven new alumni are selected to serve three-year terms. (If you’re interested in submitting an application, the deadline is Nov. 1. Visit http://alumni.rice.edu/board-applications).
This brief overview provides just a snapshot of a small slice of your alumni board’s activity, and I encourage you to reach out to one or more of the members of your alumni board if you have any suggestions for ways we can improve the lives of people within the Rice community or any questions about how you might get involved in our very broad range of efforts. Rice is always in need of dedicated and fun-loving Owls to volunteer in a range of capacities. You may be impressed to learn that 3,460 Owls, including about 2,500 alumni, volunteered for Rice last year alone. You can learn about the incredible impact these volunteers are making at Rice, or view volunteer opportunities that could be meaningful to you, at volunteer.rice.edu.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to learn more about the alumni board. I wish you and yours all the best as we head into the holiday season.
Shannon Vale '77
President, Association of Rice Alumni