Cal Alumni Association celebrates 140th anniversary

Gracie Malley/Staff

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Since its creation in 1872, the Cal Alumni Association has developed into an establishment that represents more than 450,000 graduates worldwide.

This year, to celebrate its 140th anniversary, the association has launched an online and communications-based campaign to offer opportunities to alumni to become connected and involved.

The association hopes to engage alumni with more fundraising, capitalizing on the increasing numbers in UC Berkeley class sizes, and subsequently increasing numbers of alumni members and donors, according to Susie Cohen Crumpler, chief marketing officer for the association.

Crumpler said that they are currently raising more money for scholarships, a top priority for the association in its next five-year strategic plan, which begins in 2013.

Also included in the new strategic plan are programs and opportunities for alumni to become more active in giving back directly to the campus. Historically, the association has focused only on fundraising to cover its expenses and support its scholarship programs. However, under the leadership of Jefferson C.M. Coombs, the new executive director for the association, they have begun moving toward coordinating more directly with the campus.

“The new executive director does understand the value of having alumni give back to Berkeley,” said Lishelle Blakemore, executive director of annual giving and regional programs for the campus. “I do know it’s one of his goals to message that to the alumni, but in the past it has not been a major focus of the Cal Alumni Association.”

In order to move towards this new future of collaboration with the campus, the association has put together a strategy to provide opportunities and create programs to make sure that alumni can give back to both the campus and the association.

“We feel like this is a really key time and a turning point for the University,” Crumpler said. “I personally believe that by collaborating with the different campus units and streamline efforts, we’ll have much more success keeping alumni engaged and inspired.”