November 2015 Friends of UA



Dear Friend of UA, I hope this past month has gone well for you, and I hope you are as excited as I am for the onset of fall.

November 5, 2015



Dear Friend of UA,


The University of Arizona recently welcomed thousands of former students back to campus for Homecoming. The weekend was a wonderful celebration of all things UA, from alumni breakfasts and tailgate parties on Friday and Saturday, to the groundbreaking of the Geraldo Rivera Greek Heritage Park and the launch of the Karl and Stevie Eller Professional Development Center at the Eller College of Management. The Homecoming events were also a great opportunity to meet many of the UA's alums and discuss their success outside of the University, as well as some of the new and exciting things happening here at the UA.


The next generation of University of Arizona alumni

The next generation of University of Arizona alumni


Those discussions with alumni were great reminders of the UA's impact in the world. UA graduates represent the University wherever they go in life and they are incredibly generous contributors through gifts of time, treasure, and talent. Recognizing these invaluable gifts, the UA Alumni Association works with our graduates to provide convenient and flexible ways for them to support programs here at the UA. The #CatsGiveBack scholarship campaign, which launched recently, is one example. A crowdfunding campaign that is linked to 36 UA Alumni Association chapters and clubs around the country, it will provide funding for scholarships to benefit many current UA students. This kind of support is crucial to the success of a university, and it is indicative of the strength of the intergenerational community that emerges from the shared space of UA learning and discovery.


It is equally important that we recognize the ways that alumni contribute to the University's mission by using their education to act in the world. For instance, UA alums are also supporting current students through internship opportunities, mentorships, and other engagement experiences that enable the University's learning objectives and help drive student success. UA graduates also make up a community of visionaries that advance knowledge and discovery in many fields and professions. For instance, the recent discovery of water on Mars was made by former UA student Lujendra Ojha, who earned an undergraduate degree here and worked with Professor Alfred McEwen of the UA Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and Principal Investigator of the HiRISE camera on the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which Ojha used to make the initial discovery. He has now confirmed the point as a PhD student with the Georgia Tech Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department. Even though the confirmation of Ojha's initial observation was not made here at the UA, his work is still creating world-changing impact in part because of his UA undergraduate education. While most alums are not going to make discoveries that change the way we understand our solar system, universities and colleges need to recognize how their success carries forward the mission and impact of our institutions even when it is made at other universities or in other settings. Because of this kind of potential, it is in the UA's best interest to continue engaging graduates and to encourage their active and visible participation in the Wildcat community in ways that enable the success of current students and that of alums as well.


This engagement can take many forms. The UA Alumni Association encourages professional development with its new Alumni Career and Professional Development Lab and the Wildcats Hiring Wildcats campaign (which includes the social media hashtag #HireACat). With these efforts, the Alumni Association serves as a virtual and physical site for Wildcats to come together as a community of learning and professional success. Alums are also the best suited to advocate for the University, not because they are satisfied customers, but because of the intergenerational community they help to form. Just as alumni success illustrates the importance of a university's educational programs, their advocacy highlights the impact of the institution in a way that the university would not be able to do on its own.


These are just some examples of effective alumni engagement and some ways of thinking about the symbiotic relationship that alumni and their universities should have with one another. I go into more depth on this topic in my most recent blog post, and this month's insert shares a story about Tech Launch Arizona and the role that alumni are playing in its success. I encourage you to read both to find out more.


Thank you for reading and for your continued support.




Ann Weaver Hart
University of Arizona





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