by Alumni Council President Bernadette McFadden Stout '07
I take the reins of the Alumni Council during a time of enormous change for our institution. Though the U.S. continues to emerge from the pandemic, significant challenges remain as higher education adapts to a post-pandemic normal. Meanwhile, we welcome a new, yet familiar, president to guide the college forward. Given this confluence of factors, I offer four reflections:
Strength of our alumni body. I have the privilege of being a member of two other alumni networks (Duke University and McKinsey & Company) that are thought of as among the world’s strongest. And yet, it is my Dickinson network to which I have the greatest affinity. I know the same is true for many of you. Upon stepping into the role of Alumni Council president in 2015, Michael Donnelly ’02 wrote: “No matter where one is in life, stumbling upon a fellow Dickinsonian provides a sense of comfort and, albeit brief, a moment of pride and camaraderie.” I couldn’t agree more. Let us use that pride and camaraderie to strengthen our reciprocal relationship with the college and one another.
A distinct, timely value proposition. For over 200 years, Dickinson has prepared students for lives of leadership and service. Throughout the crises of the past 18 months (as in every crisis before that), Dickinsonians around the world exhibited this ethos of engaged citizenship. We have read in this magazine about Dickinsonians who serve on the front lines, and I expect we’ll continue to read about the extraordinary and the day-to-day service by Dickinsonians in the years ahead.
Supporting one another in career transitions. A recent survey found that nearly half of U.S.-based employees are reconsidering the kind of work they do because of the pandemic. We are likely on the cusp of one the greatest periods of career transition in generations. In June, Roe Falcone ’95, the new chair of the Alumni Council’s Career Committee, sent an email to every alum identifying ways we can support the class of 2021. Let us also challenge ourselves to help Dickinsonians, from all generations, through this time of transition. Many of us can join a virtual panel, post job openings, conduct virtual interviews or welcome fellow Dickinsonians who are new to your employer. All of us can offer advice and encouragement and join Alumnifire. (Visit the Alumni Career Services page to learn more.)
Bring Dickinson to you. I intend to use this column to highlight a theme: Dickinson is where you are. I’ll share examples of how Dickinsonians stay engaged even when they are far removed—geographically or in years—from Carlisle. If the pandemic had any redeeming value, it is that it taught us new ways to connect. While many of us are eager to return to the limestone walls, for others, regular visits aren’t feasible. Let’s update our assumptions about how we build and nurture relationships with the college (and each other) by thinking about how technology and local engagement can help make us a better alumni body.
During my tenure as your Alumni Council president, I hope to meet and engage with as many of you as possible. But even more importantly, the Alumni Council will work to find new ways for all of us to reconnect with Dickinson so that Dickinson is where you are. In future columns, I’ll share how alumni are hosting events in their cities, leveraging technology to audit classes remotely and launching affinity groups. I encourage you to write to me at email@example.com with your thoughts for how to bring Dickinson closer to you.
The Alumni Council is composed of alumni volunteers who span generations and geographies and serve as advocates of the college. Your Alumni Council members are here and willing to serve you to bring Dickinson to you. Learn more.
Published August 13, 2021