ARC Plays Critical Role in Creating College Community
Message from CCAA President Kyra Tirana Barry ’87
At the center of Columbia is its people — the teachers and scholars and the vast network of more than 47,000 College alumni who have shared in the learning community on Morningside Heights and around the globe. From the moment we are admitted to the College, we become part of a worldwide group linked forever by our Columbia experiences. The Columbia College Alumni Association exists to serve all students: future, current and former.
Dean James J. Valentini’s vision for alumni is 100 percent engagement — “No Alumni Left Behind” — and he has tasked the CCAA board with accomplishing that goal. But what does that mean? What is it for the College; what is it for each alumnus/a? We have a pretty good idea how the College and administration should support the students on campus. Yet, after Commencement, the relationship becomes fuzzier.
Thus, the College and the CCAA initiated a strategic planning process this fall to better understand what alumni would like from the College, with the goal of developing a five-year plan for facilitating a deeper, more meaningful relationship for any alumnus/a who wants it. As part of that process, in early 2013, the CCAA will reach out to College alumni. I know you are not a quiet, unopinionated bunch. We hope that you will add your voice to this process (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The CCAA board’s last two meetings have been workshops to help the board and administration better understand the role and function of the board and to kick off the strategic planning. Even as planning is under way, we agree with Dean Valentini that we can focus on several areas of student and alumni engagement that are important to both groups: the alumni-sponsored student summer internship program (CCASSIP; see CCT Fall 2012), mentorship programs and the Alumni Representative Committee.
ARC plays a critical role in bringing together the people who make up the Columbia community and its members are among our most active alumni. They extend Columbia’s reach and reputation around the world and assist the Admissions Office in recruiting and evaluating the more than 30,000 students who apply for admission each year to the College and Engineering. ARC members help ensure that each generation of Columbians is dynamic and diverse.
Enrolling students often cite their interviews and connections with alumni as among the main reasons why they chose Columbia over peer institutions.
With Columbia’s rising popularity and the increasing number of applications received, we need more alumni to become ARC members — especially since all interviews are now conducted only by alumni. Having more alumni interviewers will enable Columbia to meet its goal of interviewing every serious candidate and continuing to attract the best and the brightest from every community in the United States and around the world. To better understand the program, I spoke with ARC members Simon Salas ’79, San Antonio, Texas; Vanessa Ohta ’10, Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Anne-Marie Wright ’89, Salt Lake City, Utah. Below are a few of their thoughts on the benefits to alumni of being an ARC member:
- ARC is one of the easiest ways to stay connected, especially if you live far from the tri-state area.
- I really cherished my time at Columbia and I want to share that experience.
- Columbia meant so much to me and my career and I want to help others have that opportunity.
- Being part of ARC, I am continually reminded of how much Columbia has to offer.
- Young alumni are often at the beginning of their careers and cannot give a lot of money. ARC allows young alumni to give back right away.
- ARC membership allows you to meet other Columbia alumni in your community.
Considering the benefits to students, they said:
- ARC is more than interviewing; it is the student’s first personal connection to Columbia.
- Alumni can give students a firsthand impression of the school.
- Talking about life after Columbia is important too.
- When applicants live in other regions of the country, meeting Columbia grads makes Columbia and New York City seem more accessible.
- Alumni contact with parents of admitted students is also very important.
Admitted students who were interviewed are more likely to attend Columbia. Enrolling students often cite their interviews and connections with alumni as among the main reasons why they chose Columbia over peer institutions. To find out more or to sign up, go to studentaffairs.columbia.edu/admissions/arc.
In early November, Scott Koonin ’02, co-chair of the CCAA Student Life and Alumni Programs Committee, and I had the privilege to meet with the Columbia College Student Council. The message from the students is clear: Columbia College students want to meet with and learn from their predecessors. I strongly encourage all alumni to take advantage of ARC, CCASSIP, mentoring opportunities and College events to meet students. You will come away glad that you did and enriched by the experience.