Alumni Council Election Skip Navigation

Alumni Council Election

Nominees, announced in the winter 2016 edition of the Colgate Scene and listed below, will be officially voted into office during the annual meeting on June 4, 2016.

Nomination and Election

All alumni who have attended Colgate for at least one semester, and are members of the Colgate University Alumni Corporation are eligible to serve. LEARN MORE
Portrait of Priit Vesilind ’64

Era I: Priit Vesilind ’64

Priit Vesilind was a sports and feature writer for newspapers and a writer and editor for National Geographic magazine. He earned his MA in communications photography at Syracuse University. An English major and Maroon Key winner at Colgate, Vesilind was a manager for the men’s ice hockey team and a member of the track and swimming teams. Vesilind is a Phi Gamma Delta brother and was active in the arts as assistant leader of the Colgate Thirteen. As an alumnus, Vesilind earned the Maroon Citation. He remains an active member of the entrepreneurship, entertainment, and communications professional networks.
Portrait of William C. Baker '70

Era II:  William C. Baker '70

The former chairman, CFO, and COO of Ralph Lauren Footwear, William Baker began his career in his family footwear business, Baker-Benjes, following graduation from Colgate and service in the U.S. Army. A brother of Phi Delta Theta, Baker was recognized by the national organization as Man of the Year 2012 for his service as an alumnus. Baker was a political science major at Colgate, a member of the Student Senate, and a broadcast host on WRCU. He has served on the President's Club Membership Committee for a number of years.
Portrait of Patricia Binder Spindel ’79, P’11’17

Era III: Patricia Binder Spindel ’79, P’11’17

A mathematical economics major at Colgate, Presidents’ Club member Patricia Spindel has served on the Alumnae Leadership Council and chaired her Class Gift Committee for more than two decades, founding the Spindel Family Scholarship with her husband, Ken Spindel ’79. She is an annual fund volunteer and has co-chaired her Reunion programming committee. A member of the Health and Wellness Professional Network, she spent two decades at GECapital and currently serves as an EMT and child advocate in New Canaan, Conn. Spindel is the mother of Jennifer ’11 and Julie ’17 Spindel.
Portrait of Edward Witz ’89

Era IV: Edward Witz ’89

Edward Witz was an economics and English double-major and an Alumni Memorial Scholar at Colgate. He was also a member of the Konosioni Senior Honor Society, President of Beta Theta Pi, and the men’s rugby team. He earned his MBA from Northwestern University, and he now serves as the managing director and head of auto and CV investment banking for Barclays Capital. Witz is a Finance and Banking Professional Network key volunteer who has served as the vice chair of the President’s Club Membership Committee and a co-chair of his Class Gift Committee. He is the brother of John Witz ’91.
Portrait of Richard Burke ’92

Era V: Richard Burke ’92

A political science major at Colgate, Richard Burke went on to earn his JD from Suffolk University and a master of science in National Security Strategy from National War College. He has served in the Marine Corps on active duty and in the reserves since 1995. He currently serves as a vice president for Delta Risk LLC, a cyber security firm based in Washington, D.C. A Delta Upsilon brother, Burke was also involved in student government, the Newman Community, and a member of the football team. He is a member of the STEM professional network in addition to serving as a volunteer for the Office of Admission, the Leadership Academy, and the Maroon Council.
Portrait of Chad Cooley ’00

Era VI: Chad Cooley ’00

Chad Cooley was a political science major at Colgate, a member of the men’s cross country team, the Newman Community, Frisbee Club, and Kappa Delta Rho. He founded and is the managing partner of AWH Partners, LLC, a real estate investment and development company. A volunteer for the Office of Admission and career services, Cooley remains an active alumnus through summer internships, the real estate immersion trip, and the A Day in the Life program. He is a member of the President’s Club Membership Committee and is chair of his Class Gift Committee. He is a member of both the entrepreneur and real estate professional networks. Cooley is the husband of Valerie Cooley ’99.
Portrait of Robert Sobelman ’08

Era VII: Robert Sobelman ’08

Robert Sobelman was a political science major and history minor who participated in the Washington D.C. Study Group. Vice president of the debate society, he was a Link and active in student government, serving as SGA president and a member of the senate. Sobelman earned his JD from Brooklyn Law School and, now a member of the Colgate Lawyers Association, he currently practices with Arnold & Porter LLP. Sobelman is the husband of Deborah (Charney) Sobelman ’08.
Portrait of Elizabeth Levine-Brown ’01

RVP Mid-Atlantic: Elizabeth Levine-Brown ’01

Elizabeth Levine-Brown, an education and psychology major while at Colgate, earned her MAT from American University, MA from Washington College, and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. A sister of Gamma Phi Beta, Levine-Brown was also active with the ski club and women’s rugby team. As head of Volunteer Colgate, she helped to develop and launch the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education. Since graduation, she has volunteered with the Center for Career Services and the Office of Admission, and she has served on her class gift committee. Levine-Brown is a member of the Presidents’ Club and is involved with the Common Good Professional Network. Levine-Brown is the daughter of Thomas Levine ’71.
Portrait of Stephen Rock ’85

RVP Mid-West: Stephen Rock ’85

An economics major and Beta Theta Pi brother while at Colgate, Stephen Rock now operates an organizational change management consulting firm called The Brookside Group. He is a member of the Presidents’ Club and the Society of Families Committee, a volunteer for the Office of Admission, his Class Gift Committee, and a mentor in the Thought Into Action Institute. He is a member of the common good and entrepreneur professional networks and the father of Merideth ’13, Samantha ’19, and Caroline '20.
Portrait of Max Haspel ’95

At-Large: Max Haspel ’95

Max Haspel, founder of independent wealth management firm Blue Water Advisors, has made a career in finance following his graduation with an economics major from Colgate. Haspel is a brother of Sigma Chi fraternity and has volunteered for the career services’ A Day in the Life program. He is a member of both the entrepreneurship and finance and banking professional networks, serves on his Class Gift Committee and the Alumni Council, and was President of the Long Island District Club. Haspel is the son of Ira Haspel ’67 and the nephew of William “Coty” Keller ‘67.
Portrait of Andrew Sweet ’93

At-Large: Andrew Sweet ’93

A member of the Japan Study Group, Andrew Sweet was an East Asian studies and English major at Colgate. He is a Sigma Chi brother who was active in the Outing Club and on the swimming team. Today, Sweet works for private equity merchant banking firm Rhone Group, LLC in New York and London. In his time as an alumnus, he has served on his Class Gift Committee and as an alumni office volunteer. Sweet is currently a member of the Alumni Advisory Board for the Colgate Bicentennial.


What is the Alumni Council?

The Colgate Alumni Council consists of 55 alumni nominated for their exemplary volunteer service to Colgate. Its members represent the approximately 32,000 alumni in the Colgate Alumni Corporation, and each strives to be a “Colgate ambassador”: enhancing the experience of all Colgate alumni by becoming deeply familiar with the state of the college; promoting robust communications, interesting and useful programming, and other modes of connection and engagement; and providing venues for alumni to discuss Colgate issues.

Review this list of the Alumni Council’s recent accomplishments.

The Council’s 55-member composition reflects that of the alumni body. As an example, two thirds of the council (36) are members of Greek-letter organizations. The Council includes 33 men, 22 women, and four alumni of color. Each era of graduation is equally represented by membership on the Alumni Council.

The council is not a policy making group for Colgate; policy decisions are made by the university’s Board of Trustees, which has ultimate responsibility for Colgate’s mission.

How can I find out more about the Alumni Council?

The Alumni Council’s web page describes its mission and goals. Also see current Alumni Council members and their leadership assignments and Alumni Council meeting summaries. You can also look on the Colgate Facebook page and Alumni Council Twitter feed. Learn more about the Alumni Council's most recent accomplishments.

What might I consider before running as a petition candidate?

Any alumnus may seek to run as a petition candidate. It’s a core tenet of the Alumni Council’s bylaws. People seeking to join the Council in this way, however, should consider that they’ll be running in a contested election against other dedicated Colgate alumni volunteers.

Decades ago, elections for the Alumni Council were normally contested: more than one candidate was nominated by the Council for each open position. The Council moved away from this method in the 1980s because very few alumni voted in the elections, and the election created (for lack of a better term) “losers”: dedicated alumni volunteers who were disillusioned by their loss and less inclined to continue as active volunteers.

One of the goals of the Alumni Council is having Colgate alumni be as involved and engaged with the University as possible. Rather than going directly to a contested election—an election in which half of the candidates will be disappointed and potentially withdraw from alumni service—we suggest that alumni first submit their names to the Nominations Committee and try to join the Council without a contested election.

There’s also the expense of a contested election. In 2006, petition candidates (all of whom were associated with “SA4C,” the precursor to ABC) contested eight of the Alumni Council-nominated candidates. That election cost over $100,000 to mail a ballot to each of Colgate’s over 33,000 alumni, to engage an outside firm ensure the fairness of the election, and for other expenses. Each of those petition candidates lost.

What is the cost of a contested Alumni Council Election?

Election Costs 2012 - 2014

How does the Alumni Council nomination and election process work?

The process is described in detail on the Alumni Council’s nomination and election page. A quick summary: The Alumni Council's Nominations Committee considers literally hundreds of Colgate alumni—everyone who is suggested to the Committee by someone or who self-nominates—for nine slots: 7 representing each era of Colgate alumni, and 2 representing alumni "at large."

In doing its work, the Nominations Committee uses the following four criteria, which have guided the formation of a successful, engaged board for decades: (1) breadth of Colgate volunteer experience—with a particular eye toward demonstrated leadership; (2) consistent participation in Colgate’s fundraising programs; (3) diversity of talent and perspective, including occupation, community service, gender, race, and geography; (4) evidence of time and service to the world beyond Colgate.

The Alumni Council’s nominees are voted on by the full Council in the Fall and announced in the Winter issue of the Colgate Scene. At that time, any alum who wasn’t nominated by the Alumni Council can gather 75 signatures and run as a petition candidate. The election culminates at Reunion: if there are no petition candidates, a unanimous ballot is cast for the Alumni Council-nominated candidates; if there are petition candidates, the alumni are asked to vote.

In 2012, two alumni have petitioned to run in opposition to council-nominated candidates. While the Alumni Council supports the right of any alum to run, and is committed to a fair election, the Alumni Council also believes in its comprehensive nominations process, and wholeheartedly supports the candidates who its Nominations Committee has chosen.

Are there ways to be considered for membership on the Alumni Council other than running in a contested election as a petition candidate?

Yes. Any Colgate alumnus or alumna can recommend him or herself, or any other member of the alumni community, as a nominee to the Alumni Council, at any time. Alumni recommended to the Nominations Committee are considered for nomination in its next cycle.

In the aftermath of the 2011 election, the four petition candidates were asked whether they would like to be considered by the Alumni Council nominations committee in its process. Two of the candidates responded affirmatively, and their names were submitted to the nominations committee. These candidates were reviewed, along with hundreds of others, in the process.

How can I recommend myself or another alumnus for membership on the Alumni Council?

The Nominations Committee solicits potential nominees at the Alumni Council’s nomination and election page, as well as through the Colgate Scene and elsewhere. Many candidates come to the Council’s attention through nomination by other alumni or by self-nomination, and we encourage alumni to nominate themselves or others all year long.

How is the Alumni Corporation promoting a fair election—and one that alumni will participate in?

Because the integrity of the process has been so important, the Alumni Corporation has hired an independent, third-party firm to make sure the election was managed fairly and impartially. Each of the candidates’ biographies and personal statements are presented side-by-side on the official website of the election, which will be posted if there are any petition candidates. (You may log into that site when you receive your unique login credentials by e-mail or letter.)

I’d like to be a volunteer for Colgate. How can I do so?
There are dozens of opportunities for alumni to reconnect—opportunities that immediately help the university and its alumni, and promote communication and dialogue.
  • Alumni volunteers are the backbone of the district clubs network, which each year provides over 300 social, academic, athletic and service events for Colgate alumni across the country and the world.
  • Alumni serve as admissions volunteers, introducing Colgate to high school students who might not be able to visit campus, and giving students a deeper understanding of what Colgate has to offer.
  • Alumni raise money for Colgate, as class agents and President’s Club volunteers, in Reunion classes, and for particular groups such as the Maroon Council, Silver Puck and the Colgate Thirteen, to name a few.
  • Alumni provide career advice, employment leads and job opportunities to students at Real World and through the A Day In The Life program, and to fellow Colgate alumni via the new Maroon Advantage.
  • Alumni serve as student leadership mentors, advising fraternity and sorority chapters and other student groups.
And there are many more ways, our website features Thirteen Ways to Get Involved for alumni seeking other ways to reconnect. And since volunteer service is the core criterion for the Nominations Committee’s selection process, someone who builds a record of Colgate volunteerism in this way is likely to come to the attention of the Committee to be considered for membership. We encourage alumni to contact Jenna Webb, Director of Alumni Relations, if they would like to become volunteers for Colgate: it would be our pleasure to help them find meaningful and rewarding volunteer roles.