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Beyond the Limestone Walls: Increasing Our Impact

Michael Donnelly

by Michael Donnelly '02, Alumni Council President 

Greetings! I find myself sitting to write this column as I wear my new Dickinson sweatshirt and sweatpants that I purchased at the College Bookstore during my most recent visit to campus. It puts me in the Dickinson spirit, so to speak.

Since my last column, I have had the opportunity to participate in seven Dickinson experiences. October was my Dickinson month, in that I had an event to attend three weekends in a row: an Alumni Council meeting that coincided with the jointly held Volunteer Leadership Summit (VLS) and Career Conference; Dickinson’s Celebration of Global Studies in Washington, D.C.; and the Board of Trustees’ fall meeting.

I could not be more proud of the members of the Alumni Council who spent two 13-hour days, back-to-back, participating in meetings, advisory sessions, student and faculty presentations, receptions and fellowship. Suffice it to say that everyone was tired but excited! We definitely increased our impact on campus during that weekend!

In mid-October, close to 500 alumni and guests gathered to celebrate global education and the 50th anniversary of Dickinson’s inaugural study-abroad program, Bologna. The entire weekend was magical. The relationships that were rekindled, and the collective excitement of that weekend, was palpable.

Of special note is that a group of engaged alumni came together to raise funds to create an endowed scholarship to support the studies of a Dickinsonian who is taking his or her junior year to study in Bologna. The K. Robert Nilsson and Juliana P. Nilsson Scholarship Fund was announced by President Nancy A. Roseman to a packed house of alumni, faculty, current and past study-abroad directors and advancement team members. The dedication of this particular alumni group is to be commended, and the opportunities that their gift will make for future Dickinsonians is nothing short of amazing.

In addition to these two extraordinary experiences, I also participated in the most recent Board of Trustees meeting. As the president of the Alumni Council, I am afforded a four-year term on the board. The next time you are at a regional event, an admissions fair or Dickinson gathering—whether on campus or elsewhere—I encourage you to take some time to introduce yourself to a trustee. These fellow Dickinsonians have a sense of the pulse of the college, as well as the best interests of past, present and future students. I’m inspired by their individual successes and, at the same time, by the collective energy and expertise that goes into keeping our alma mater on a forward trajectory.

As I close my column, I want to reiterate that I was simply one person within a crowd of many Dickinsonians. Together, we are uniquely strong and superbly united. As individual Dickinsonians, we are taught to be free thinkers and problem-solvers. Collectively, we recognize that we are who we are because our small, private, liberal arts college in Carlisle, Pa., while shielding us within its limestone walls, prepared us to be the leaders of today.

I hope that you have been reflecting on your involvement with the college and that you have taken the opportunity to attend a regional event; view an online livestream of a One College One Community presentation; made your annual gift; or, perhaps, most important, reached out to professors and fellow alumni with whom you have lost touch. The expanse of a Dickinson education is nothing short of amazing, and I urge you to take advantage of that and maintain (or rekindle) your Dickinson relationships.

As always, feel free to contact me with any thoughts, ideas, questions or concerns. My email address is Until next time, be well!

Learn More

Read more from the winter 2016 issue of Dickinson Magazine.

Published January 29, 2016