Save the DatesYoung Alumni Welcome Events (see Club Notes): September 23Back to Bates: October 16-18
Alumni-in-Residence Program: January 29, 1998
A Raft of Fun in JulyBe adventurous! Join Council members and alumni for a whitewater rafting trip down the Penobscot River on the weekend of July 25. The trip includes lodging and most meals and a full day of rafting. Contact Scott Marchildon ’95 in the Alumni Office (207-786-6127 or firstname.lastname@example.org ) for more details.
Spotlighting the Trustee ProcessDid you use your “alumni voice” by voting for Alumni Trustees this spring?Did you ever wonder who selects the Alumni Trustee nominees who appear on the ballot each April?
One of the most important responsibilities of the Alumni Council is the nomination of alumni to serve as Trustees of the College. Last fall, President Harward visited the Council to discuss the composition of the Bates board. His visit heightened our awareness of the impact our process has on the overall board. We add two full voting members every year! As a result, Bates alumni have a very strong voice on the overall Board of Trustees.
The nominating process is handled by the Council’s Nominating Committee. We have devoted the last year to improving the process: We have expanded the committee to seven members, increased the number of potential nominees, and obtained more in-depth biographical information on the nominees.
The process begins in the summer when the Nominating Committee calls for nominations from the various constituencies of the College community. These names are added to the names that you write in on the Alumni Ballot in the spring. Short biographies are prepared by the Alumni Office, and the committee goes to work to identify ten to fifteen alumni to be further researched and presented to the full Council for review prior to our January meeting. Throughout the process, the lists are shared with President Harward to keep the board informed of our progress and the names of the persons under consideration.
What and who are we looking for? Very generally, we look for alumni who can bring to bear a range of talents, abilities, and perspectives on behalf of Bates, and who have displayed a pattern of interaction with Bates and devotion to the College.
At our January meeting, each potential nominee is reviewed and voted on by the full Council. A slate of four nominees with two alternates is determined. The Council president then contacts the four nominees, outlining the elective process. Once the nominees agree to participate in the election, the slate is presented for approval at the Alumni Awards ceremony at Reunion. There is communication between the nominees and the College and Council throughout the summer and fall as the ballot is prepared for distribution in the following spring. We also can arrange for nominees to meet with current Trustees to give the nominees insight into the role of Trustee.
Recently, we have worked to raise awareness of the Alumni Trustee election. In addition to introducing the nominees in Bates Magazine, this year you may have noticed that background information and statements of the nominees were on the Bates Web site. We also employed Bates Club and class agent mailings and blanket e-mail to encourage alumni to vote. The result was that about 15 percent of our 15,000-plus alumni voted in this year’s election. Two broad concerns have been expressed about the elective process, which have spurred much Council discussion.
One concern has to do with the election participation of around 15 percent. Is that good or bad? Some might say that having three thousand alumni participating in an election by direct mail is terrific. Someone else might say that three out of twenty alumni is a low rate.
Another concern is the realization that in nominating four highly committed, devoted, and talented alumni to the ballot, we are forced to into a process where two are going to be disappointed. Is that helpful to Bates?
As a result of these concerns, the Council leadership asked the Alumni Office to survey other colleges regarding their trustee process. A survey of seventeen peer institutions has been completed. This survey, along with research on the relationship between Trustee nominees and the College, will serve as a basis for discussion at our spring meeting.
The Council is committed to nominating strong alumni to the Bates board. Your vote in the election is important. We welcome any nominations or input you may have on this very important topic. Write to the Alumni Council c/o the Alumni House, Bates College, 67 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240, or e-mail email@example.com.