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.)