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From Theory to Action

Michael Donnelly

by Michael Donnelly '02, Alumni Council President

Dickinson is positioned to be at its very best, and it needs a collective effort on the part of every one of its alumni to continue a forward momentum. As you know, our founding fathers chartered an institution of higher learning more than 230 years ago (233 to be exact). The limestone buildings and the walls that surrounded them were state-of-the-art then and a home away from home for students and faculty alike. Fast forward to present day. Our alma mater’s limestone continues to exude a sense of comfort for all who call Carlisle their home, whether permanently or for an undergraduate tenure. It is within those walls that generations of Dickinsonians have built lasting friendships and  relationships, and it is time that we capitalize on our connections to (re)engage and re(energize) Dickinsonians around the world.

Our beloved Dickinson is in constant flux and behind the walls of an institution enriched with history is a place that is ever-changing. Faculty and staff come and go (although many find Dickinson to be their forever home!), a new class of graduates will leave the institution every year, and new buildings as well as older ones being upgraded not only garner LEED certifications, but also create teaching and learning spaces that are unique and highly regarded.

Further, and of current importance, the Presidential Search Committee has begun its work, and as president of the Alumni Council, I am fortunate to be a member of this important team. (Comments and thoughts are welcomed by emailing

So now, more than ever, it is our duty as alumni to come together to create an even tighter bond and to provide the necessary support for our students, current and future. A new residence hall is in the works so that we can continue our tradition of a four-year, residential institution. Teaching and learning is ever-evolving, so support for our faculty and staff is critical in enhancing what is already a world-class learning experience.

Do these all require additional funding? Of course. Financial support of our alma mater is always a point of conversation. Let’s face it—compared to our peer and aspirant institutions, our alumni giving rate is quite low. (I wish I could say the opposite.) This is a difficult conversation to have. I share this now because, well, throughout the past  year, I have had many conversations with fellow alumni who begin with “you’re not going to ask me for money, are you?” I have always stated that we are all, in our own way, ambassadors for the college. Some of us can give time, while others can provide financial support. (Many, in fact, do both—thank you!) Whichever the case for you, let’s consider moving from talking about what we could do, to what we are going to do.

The Alumni Council is poised to make great strides in supporting the college, both financially and with outreach. I challenge you, my fellow alumni, to rise to the challenge as well. Have you spoken to others about how awesome Dickinson is? Have you given to the college in the past few years? If you haven’t done either, I encourage you to make the conscious decision to have an impact this year.

As always, I welcome your questions, comments and feedback. My email address is This is the year that we will turn our theory (talk) into action. I invite you to join us and make Dickinson your focus for the year.

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Published October 18, 2016