Syracuse University Magazine

Our Role as Alumni

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As I became more involved in alumni activities, I began to understand that being an alum is not all fun and games, but carries with it a certain amount of responsibility.  Moving up the alumni volunteer ranks, one of my objectives was to try to convey to the various constituencies that comprise SU exactly what that responsibility means and how each of us can fulfill it in his or her own way.

I felt a deep sense of pride and accomplishment when I was on campus for Commencement last spring and read an editorial in The Daily Orange 2011 Graduation Guide written by Beckie Strum ’12. It nailed on the head what I have been trying to articulate. Titled “Role of alumni, lifelong duty,” the editorial speaks to the essence of what it means to be an SU alumnus or alumna and so appropriately states that the role of alumni “demands you are forever involved in the changes and future of this campus. Being active alumni, connecting with future students, providing guidance for them, visiting, and speaking up about changes to campus policy and politics become your responsibility when you walk across that stage.”

The editorial emphasizes alumni power and prerogative. Beckie writes, “Alumni comprise the greatest force for change and direction at this school.” In addition to their time, talent, and treasure, the most important thing alumni do is “hold an institutional memory that becomes greater and more relevant than any chancellor’s, administrator’s, or director’s,” Beckie writes. “Alumni status demands more than attendance at Homecoming or a few e-mails with an eager student—more than a smile at the sight of an SU sweatshirt in a crowded airport, a drunken cheer in a bar as SU wins another bowl game, or an app for navigating through many feet of snow. Alumni status means dedication to your degree and its value.”

Beckie issues a challenge to alumni to “have the single greatest effect on SU’s future” by remembering that “your role here is far from over.” If the bright young mind who wrote this editorial already “gets it,” then shouldn’t we?  So, I encourage you to join your local alumni club, mentor a student, offer an internship, represent SU at a high school college fair, come back for Orange Central, visit with students, and stay informed (you can read my monthly blog). And, if you can, make a donation to the school, program, or activity of your choice. Thank you!  

Brian Spector ’78

President, Syracuse University Alumni Association