New Leaders, New Priorities for the Year Ahead

Michael Behringer ’89 poses with a baby.

Courtesy Michael Behringer ’89

I am honored to be the newest president of the Columbia College Alumni Association. Having been involved with the CCAA for nearly 10 years, I can say with certainty that it’s a rewarding experience to give back to Columbia, reconnect with old friends and meet generations of alumni and students. I’m looking forward to advancing the CCAA’s mission during my three-year term, which began on July 1.

The CCAA serves both College alumni and students. Founded in 1825, its membership comprises more than 50,000 College alumni worldwide. By tradition, we also recognize College students, faculty and administrators as members.

The CCAA is your liaison and representative for all things relating to the College. Its mission is to promote alumni engagement, raise funds on behalf of the College and provide counsel to the dean and other senior administrators. Our leadership, a 70-member Board of Directors elected to two-year terms, meets regularly with Dean James J. Valentini. Examples of the CCAA’s work are leading and supporting the Columbia College Fund, supporting the Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner and John Jay Awards Dinner, and maintaining several committees that address topics of importance to students and alumni, such as career education, student life and athletics.

This fall, six new members join me on the Steering Committee: Steve Coleman ’83, VP of engagement; Ted Schweitzer ’91, VP of development; Alex Wallace Creed ’88, VP, state of the College; Stefanie Katz-Rothman ’88, communications adviser; Chris Della Pietra ’89, secretary; and our chair, Doug Wolf ’88.

The CCAA is fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers. Steve has been an Alumni Representative Committee (ARC) regional chair for Boston. Ted, a prolific fundraiser, is a former chair of the Fund Development Council. Alex is a John Jay Award recipient and was the Class Day speaker in 2011. Stefanie co-led the planning for the Columbia College Women 30th celebration symposium this past April. Chris, the quarterback of our 1988 football team that broke “the streak,” was presented the President’s Cup for his reunion leadership. Doug led the CCAA as president for the past three years.

For this year the board has identified several priorities:

  • Expanding ARC: ARC members help the Admissions Office by interviewing applicants to Columbia College and Columbia Engineering and by representing the schools at local events to promote the Columbia experience. Despite a passionate group of core volunteers, we trail our Ivy peers in number of interviews with prospective students. We want to expand our ARC coverage and strengthen our volunteer system.
  • Developing the Odyssey Mentoring Program: College alumni include professionals and experts in nearly every discipline. Their knowledge, coupled with their understanding of what it means to have attended the College, makes for an invaluable resource. We want to expand opportunities for alumni to provide advice and networking opportunities to current students as well as to fellow alumni.
  • Implementing increased student-alumni programming: Alumni and students are eager to interact and share experiences, build community and understand the issues facing students today. We have some exciting ideas in the works that we’ll share in the coming months.
  • Support for Core to Commencement: The Core to Commencement campaign is a multi-year endeavor to rally support and dollars to enhance the undergraduate experience that makes the College the “jewel” of the Columbia crown. We want to draw more alumni into this important initiative that supports students, faculty and the Core and positions alma mater for continuing greatness.
  • Reunions and Homecoming: We’ll look at ways to enhance these signature events by expanding programming and participation.

We need passionate alumni to help with these initiatives. If you’re interested in volunteering, or have questions and/or suggestions, please email me or friend me on Facebook. I’d love to hear from you.

Also, please mark these fall events on your calendar. Homecoming is Saturday, October 14; the Lions will host Penn. The Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner is Thursday, November 16. The Alexander Hamilton Medal, the CCAA’s highest honor for service to the College, will be awarded this year to one of our most dedicated and loyal alumni, University Trustee Jonathan S. Lavine ’88. I hope you can join us in celebrating Jonathan for all he has done for Columbia.