14 past presidents urge saving UConn alumni association

University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst was sent a letter Friday from 14 past presidents of the university’s alumni association urging her to reconsider her decision to sever the school’s relationship with the organization.

“The plan not only represents the dissolution of the Association, it will result in a total subordination of the Alumni spirit. Viewed realistically, your plan reduces a proud semi-independent organization to a minor pocket of the Foundation, run by a hand-picked few,” the past presidents wrote.

At the urging of Herbst, the university’s governing board in March voted to put the job of handling alumni relations under the UConn Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm. The separation means the association can no longer use the school’s name, logo, alumni names and contact information and will no longer receive about $500,000 a year from the university.

The association is working on a plan for disposition of its assets.

The alumni association’s tax filings show the alumni group spent $2.7 million, earned $200,000 from its investments and had $9.2 million in assets in 2012, the most recent year available. Those assets include the Alumni House on campus.

Herbst has said the move was not financial and was done to promote more engagement with the university among graduates. Of the 230,000 UConn alumni, there were 14,050 dues-paying members in June 2014 — too few engaged alumni, Herbst said.

The past president said the new strategy will not improve participation.

“That will not happen if your plan, as it is presently structured, is implemented,” they wrote. “We urge the university to immediately step back from implementation of this consolidation.”

The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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About Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline won two first prizes from the national Education Writers Association for her work in 2012 – one in beat reporting for her overall education coverage, and the other in investigative reporting on a series of stories revealing questionable monetary and personnel actions taken by the Board of Regents for Higher Education. In 2016, she was a finalist in the EWA competition for single-topic coverage for her reporting on how schools are funded in Connecticut. Before coming to The Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. She has also worked for Congressional Quarterly and the Toledo Free Press. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College. She and her husband, son and two dogs live in Hartford.