Simply the Best
A Shining Light on   Broadway



Ric Burns '78
Ronald Mason Jr. '74
Victor Wouk '39

Executive Privilege

By Phillip M. Satow '63
President, Columbia College Alumni Association

Phillip M. Satow '63

This is my final column as president of the Columbia College Alumni Association. These last two years have been remarkably rewarding as our organization has played a pivotal role in supporting the resurgence of Columbia College.

Conventional wisdom assumes that the Alumni Association has a single purpose: fundraising. Our responsibilities, however, encompass far more than enjoining our members to contribute to the College Fund. Alumni leadership is the glue that binds our diverse intergenerational community together. Just as government leadership must touch the soul of its citizenry, the Alumni Association - sparked by the leadership of its Executive Committee - has stretched to reach young alumni, alumni of differing ethnicities, and alumni residing in all corners of the world. Further, we have recognized the importance of introducing all current students to alumni and educating undergraduates about their responsibilities after graduation as members of the Columbia community. Today's students attend alumni dinners, benefit from alumni experience and expertise through the Alumni Partnership Program, and enjoy the benefits of mentoring and internship programs sponsored by generous alumni.

Behind the scenes, the Executive Committee, our volunteer officer group, has strengthened our Columbia community by working to make the College a continuing part of the lives of all alumni and students. Thanks to President George Rupp, who has placed the College at the center of the University, our Executive Committee has been able to focus on maximizing alumni participation and shaping Columbia's future rather than having to struggle, as in times past, at securing the rightful place for the College within the University. These past months have proven that a minimal involvement of alumni in College life is not inevitable. The Columbia College Young Alumni, led by Rita Pietropinto '93, have organized an ambitious agenda of social and networking events that have brought hundreds of recent graduates together.

The National Council, initiated by the CCAA Board three years ago, has grown significantly under the leadership of Jerry Grossman '61 and Roger Lehecka '67. In six cities around the country this winter, the National Council hosted events where alumni met with current students as well as newly admitted students from the Class of 2004. In participating cities, alumni involvement in admissions, mentoring and local Columbia Clubs has increased - and alumni help to current students continues to grow. The National Council now has its own website, Be sure to "bookmark" it.

Our board has taken steps to include a greater diversity of views and perspectives. An outreach committee was established nearly two years ago, ably led by Fernando Ortiz '79 and, more recently, Mozelle Thompson '76. Columbia College Women, formed in 1989, is now represented at our board meetings. Alumni recognize that if we speak with one voice, we are more likely to be heard when strategic policies are formulated and programs implemented at the College and University.

Our Executive Committee knows that Columbia's endowment is only about 25 percent of the size of Harvard's, and far smaller also than that of Yale or Princeton. We also understand that tuition, as high as it seems to many, covers less than half the cost of an undergraduate education. Now our collective voice is heard as we work with Dean Austin Quigley and University leaders in directing more resources at College needs. The Executive Committee's involvement in Columbia affairs allows it to understand the University's priorities. As a direct result of our gifts, alumni now play an influential role in resource allocation. Alumni leadership proactively contributed to planned renovations for Hamilton Hall and the Career Services Center, and to endow the Core Curriculum. We are all familiar with the remarkable generosity that supported the recent erection of Lerner Hall and the renovation of the College Library.

The superb effort expended by Bob Berne '60 as chair has resulted in above-target performance for the Columbia College Fund, which generates the funds essential if Dean Quigley is to realize his visionary plans for the College. I am proud today that our current donor retention rate is over 80 percent, and 50 percent of participants regularly upgrade their gifts. Further, the Association's board and the College's Board of Visitors, led by Richard Witten '75, is aggressively raising incremental funds for academic and development initiatives to keep the College more than competitive with its sister institutions.

As we look ahead to next year, my successor and the excellent College staff will face the challenge of continuing to increase overall alumni participation, especially in the College Fund. A new director of alumni affairs, Ken Catandella, has joined our team from Sarah Lawrence College and the Kennedy School at Harvard. I expect that Ken's experience will bring our strategic directives and programming to a higher level.

It has been a privilege for me to have had the opportunity to serve alma mater these last two years and to have led a skilled and devoted Executive Committee. We all owe so much to the College. Please enthusiastically support the College's success on so many fronts by getting involved, and encourage your classmates to do the same. Let's roar, lions, roar!

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