Connections Make a Community

Welcoming Emily Lavine '18 to the ranks of alumni.

Welcoming Emily Lavine '18 to the ranks of alumni.

Eileen Barroso

At this year’s Class Day ceremony, I had the privilege of addressing graduating seniors on behalf of the Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA). I shared with them a motto of my fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta: “Not for college days alone.” It’s a similar sentiment to that made by Dean James J. Valentini when he observed in his own remarks that while we are students for just four years, we will be alumni for the rest of our lives.

Both express a comparable insight. Our Columbia College experience is not limited to the time we spent on campus. It develops and unfolds over the course of many years, and grows to include not only classmates and friends we encountered during our studies, but also the worldwide alumni community.

As a student, I welcomed the chance to meet alumni and, as an alumnus, I’m equally excited to meet students. Fostering these student-alumni connections is one of the CCAA’s top goals. These relationships not only strengthen our College community, but also extend the College experience well beyond our days on campus.

The Student-Alumni Journey Committee, chaired by Dan Tamkin ’81 and Neda Navab ’08, strives to bring alumni and students together at targeted programming and events throughout the year. Partnering with the Alumni Office, the committee hosted and supported a number of well-attended events this past year including Bagel Breaks, Sundaes on Tuesday, and several student-alumni lunches and dinners.

CCAA Board of Directors members, and alumni, were a visible presence this spring at the Senior Dinner, the Senior Toast for graduating women and the Alumni Parade of Classes at Class Day. Each of these events afforded an opportunity for alumni to meet Class of 2018 members and officially welcome them to the ranks of alumni.

As for the College’s newest alumni, their journey began even before they arrived on campus four years ago. Each year, the CCAA supports the Summer Send-Off series, whereby alumni host — at their home or office — receptions at which incoming Columbia College and Columbia Engineering students and their families can meet other local incoming classmates, current students and alumni. These popular gatherings (more than 20 are held worldwide) are an opportunity for the students and their families to mingle with other Columbians where they live, and ask questions and compare notes, all in a casual social environment. For many, these receptions are their first introduction to the larger College community and provide an opportunity to make connections before move-in day.

This summer, in our town of Greenwich, Conn., my wife and I hosted students and alumni for pizza and cupcakes at our home. This was our second year hosting a send-off. It was especially enjoyable to personally welcome the children of classmates, friends and neighbors to the Columbia family.

At these receptions, and at the many other student-alumni events I take part in, I’m always struck by how interested students are in meeting alumni. Whether to discuss studies, hear about an alum’s journey after Columbia or just to learn what Columbia was like back in the day, there is a real desire to connect with earlier generations and to be part of the larger College community. At our reception, I noticed how many alumni exchanged contact info with students, parents and one another.

I thank all the alumni who were ambassadors for the College by hosting or attending these send-offs. And there are still a few remaining this summer. Please consider attending one in your area or hosting one next year (

Looking ahead, Convocation is scheduled for August 26. President Lee C. Bollinger, Valentini and the CCAA will welcome the Class of 2022 at this inspiring ceremony, which is the culmination of Orientation. All alumni are invited to participate in the proceedings and to march in the Alumni Procession (

For more information on these events, or other ways to connect with students, feel free to contact me at or Eric Shea, director, Columbia College alumni relations, at

I hope to see you soon.

-Michael Behringer '89