Alumni Corner

Our Extended Community

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

In the last issue of Columbia College Today, I wrote from the heart about the enduring strengths of Columbia College, some recent, spectacular successes, and the need for more of us to support our College. As my first "Alumni Corner," it had to be a general overview. In this and future columns, I will look at themes in greater depth.

An appropriate first theme is Dean Austin Quigley's vision of the College as an inter-generational community composed of students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni. In this vision, graduation is not the end to an educational experience, but rather the beginning of a new relationship with Columbia. As alumni, we remain at Morningside Heights in spirit, and the College stays with us wherever we live. We not only continue to be nourished intellectually by Columbia but also help nurture the College. (You can read more about this marvelous vision in Dean Quigley's interview in this issue.)

There are so many ways to become a more active citizen of this extended community: recruiting and interviewing applicants; mentoring or advising students; contributing financially (and encouraging others to do so); finding internships or jobs for students and graduates; attending College-sponsored events; and becoming active members of the Alumni Association, the National Council, or local Columbia Clubs.

In this issue, Dani McClain '00 writes about the Alumni Partnership Program, a remarkable initiative that allows successful alumni to help students think about life after graduation--and through direct contact with students, to learn about how the College is thriving. The diversity of alumni participating in this program is extraordinary. Students' lives are certainly richer for having met these alumni, and I am confident that the lives of alumni participants have been enriched as well. (Profiles of recent APP events are on the Internet at cu/ccs/student/98networking/appprogram.html.)

Two alumni who have kept the connection to the College alive are Suzanne Waltman '87 and Jerry Sherwin '55. "Columbia gave me a lot intellectually and enabled me to mature. This is a chance for me to give back," says Suzanne. "I enjoy hearing from students who have gotten jobs or have been admitted to graduate school. I should be outward, not inward looking--a participant in, not an observer of events," says Jerry.

Balancing her family and a venture capital career, Suzanne still finds time for Columbia meetings and the brunches she hosts for young alumni. "One of the things I've learned at Columbia was the importance of giving to society, not just taking," she says. "I choose to spend my time at Columbia for two reasons. First, Columbia is the place where I feel that I gained this insight. Second, it is incredibly invigorating to spend time with the caliber of people I get to work with during my Columbia activities."

During the last several years, her Columbia activism has concentrated on the once-dormant Young Alumni of Columbia College. For two years she headed up YACC with the goal of increasing contact of recent alumni with each other and with the College. She showed wonderful imagination in planning, great skill in implementation, and an extraordinary ability to get her fellow alumni involved. Because of Suzanne's efforts, YACC is a

much more vibrant organization than it was even a few years ago. Deeply concerned that fewer than 20 percent of alumni from the last ten graduating classes contribute to our annual fund, she is currently working with the College Fund Committee of the Alumni Association to increase giving rates among young alumni. She hopes that young alumni soon will match or exceed the giving rate of over 40 percent from our other classes.

Jerry Sherwin's involvement is as diverse as Suzanne's is focused. From a family with long ties to Columbia (his father was in the Class of 1920), Jerry is president of his class, class correspondent for CCT, and chairman of the Manhattan Alumni Recruitment Committee, where he works with over 140 other alumni who interview nearly 700 applicants annually. A former president of the Varsity "C" Club, he is still chairman of the Alumni Advisory Committee for men's basketball, where he works with the coaches in fund-raising and with student-athletes in career counseling. Other roles include chairman of the board of Friends of the Double Discovery Center and first vice president of the Alumni Association. He juggles a demanding work schedule with Columbia-related phone calls and correspondence, regularly visits campus, and frequently brings students and administrators to his place of work.

In pursuing his Columbia activities, Jerry gains an opportunity to contribute his thoughts, recommendations and advice for the College, returning some of the wisdom he first learned at Columbia and subsequently honed in his profession. In response to quips about his numerous alumni honors, he says, "awards and recognition are great, but what is even more important is the deep satisfaction of being a part of today's Columbia experience."

Jerry and Suzanne epitomize what loyal alumni can achieve if they stay involved. Many other alumni probably wish to participate in Columbia activities, but have difficulty getting started. If you want to help in some way, but are not sure how, call Jerry at 212/727–5723 (email:gsherwin or Suzanne at 212/536-7784 (e-mail: The College and your fellow alumni value your contribution.