In August 2017, the Executive Committee of the Association of Rice Alumni Board created the Strategic Principles Task Force. The task force focused on developing this set of principles to guide the work of the Board, beginning with the Board’s FY2019 term.
The task force chose not to create an extensive or long-term strategic plan for the Board. Rather, acknowledging the quickly changing face of higher education and the consistently evolving needs of the Rice alumni population, the task force recommended a shorter, more agile document. The task force also strove to develop principles that complement the university’s strategic planning document, the Vision for the Second Century, Second Decade (V2C2).
Unlike a strategic plan, which traditionally has a three- to five-year time frame, this document does not have a specific expiration date. Rather, it is intended to apply until the public launch of Rice University’s next major fundraising campaign, but not beyond the conclusion of FY2021. The task force recommends that future Alumni Board Presidents, Executive Committee members, and Executive Directors should revisit and modify these principles as the needs of the alumni community and Rice’s strategic goals continue to evolve.
In previous strategic planning efforts, the Rice Alumni Board adopted the following Mission Statement for the Association of Rice Alumni. We reconfirm that Mission Statement here:
The mission of the Association of Rice Alumni (ARA) is to engage alumni in the life of the university by building a continuing relationship between Rice and its former students with the objective of enabling them to contribute and to share in the advancement of the university. The ARA achieves this objective by stimulating alumni intellectual and social participation, encouraging alumni contributions to the university’s enhancement, promoting concern among its members for the welfare of the university, and strengthening the bond of understanding between the university and its alumni community.
A strong Rice alumni network is critical. A strong network benefits alumni by supporting their professional success and meaningful personal connections. A strong alumni network also supports the V2C2’s goal of enhancing Rice’s reach and impact in a number of ways, both by building alumni affinity for Rice, which empowers alumni to serve as ambassadors of the university, and by helping Rice recruit the best students, who typically seek a university with a strong alumni network.
The Alumni Board’s work to strengthen the alumni network must encompass all alumni in ways that meet their expectations and needs. In addition to working with our regional and affinity groups, some key alumni groups that the Alumni Board can engage more fully include:
The Alumni Board recognizes that our brand and programs should reflect the university’s global ambition and pursuit of knowledge. Rice is a global university, with an alumni presence and expertise in North America, South America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Our students, alumni, and faculty now regularly travel and study around the world, and our graduates pursue careers in every major international market. While this broad geographic reach can pose challenges, we must look for creative opportunities to engage international and expat alumni in more programs to capitalize on their global experience.
One key way to engage our entire alumni population is through virtual learning and internet-enabled tools. The Board has long recognized the value of lifelong learning, and alumni have increasingly asked for more learning opportunities online. The use of internet-enabled tools like Sallyportal (Rice’s online professional networking platform) and virtual classrooms will allow the Alumni Board to reach, connect, and enrich the lives of even more alumni around the world, and the V2C2 clearly indicates that virtual learning will be an increasingly important part of the Rice experience. The Alumni Board must look for opportunities to connect alumni with the university and each other online for individual growth, career development, and the success of Rice’s global goals.
The Rice Alumni Board must gather and present the alumni perspective to the university, where appropriate, to advocate on behalf of critical alumni prerogatives and to provide feedback regarding alumni preferences. Rice alumni love the university and care deeply about both preserving its meaningful traditions and having a role in its progress. Accordingly, we have a unique perspective that can and should be a key input for university decision-makers.
The Board must also advocate for Rice alumni beyond the university. Existing ARA recognition programs, like the Laureates Awards and the Alumni Recognition Committee, as well as many programs outside of the ARA, celebrate the achievements of our alumni. That work must continue, but we can do more to ensure that people beyond Rice are aware of the achievements and strengths of our alumni. This advocacy and recognition will benefit alumni, enhance the Rice alumni brand, and help increase Rice’s overall reach and impact globally.
The Alumni Board must work to understand how alumni want to engage with Rice and encourage engagement through a wide range of opportunities that are suitable for each alumnus or alumna. All alumni have an opportunity to support the continued growth of Rice, whether through time, talent, or monetary support. Some key elements of engagement continue to be: mentoring students, including international students, via internships and externships, facilitated by tools like Sallyportal; volunteering within all areas of the university, including the ARA; attending university-wide and alumni-specific events (both in and outside of Houston); participating in lifelong learning opportunities; and providing annual philanthropic support to Rice. The Board must encourage all of these elements of engagement in its work with alumni, including with our regional and affinity groups and the specific alumni groups identified above. As appropriate, we should also encourage engagement with Rice parents, families, and other friends of the university, and we should prepare our future alumni for their engagement as members of the ARA. All of these elements of engagement will benefit alumni, help grow the next generation of world and industry leaders, and contribute to Rice’s global reach and impact.
Ratified on May 12, 2018.