By Brooklyn Draisey
Two University of Iowa organizations are merging to form one that UI officials say will work toward better relations with alumni.
University of Iowa Foundation President and CEO Lynette Marshall described the merger of the UI Foundation and the UI Alumni Association at a Faculty Senate meeting in the Old Capitol on Tuesday. She will head the development of the new organization.
The Alumni Association’s Board of Directors voted to combine the two organizations on June 9. Tuesday morning, the UI Foundation voted unanimously in support, Marshall said. The two programs will officially become one on Jan. 1, 2018.
As of fiscal 2016, only 5.3 percent of alumni paid dues to the organization. With this merger, alumni dues will be done away with, so the programs offered by the association will be more accessible, Marshall said.
“Our leaf is that one doesn’t need to be paying annual dues … to be a member of the Alumni Association; if you attended the University of Iowa we welcome you as an alum,” she said. “Our goal now is to serve the 270,000 living alumni.”
While one of the goals of this organization is to bring in more alumni participation and support, Marshall said the organization will not forget the large group of supporters who want to see the university succeed.
“We know that our average efforts must encompass more than just alumni, but also friends, faculty and staff,” Marshall said. “Our relationship with our friends is deeply important to us.”
In a Daily Iowan interview with UI President Bruce Harreld on May 4, he spoke of the merger and how important nonalumni friends are.
“We have a lot of other friends beyond graduates of the institution,” Harreld said. “In that broader context, I said we could actually fundraise — as the Alumni Association says, ‘Friend raise’ — at the same time, and there’s a very consistent process.”
While the Alumni Association and the UI Foundation have always been separate organizations, Marshall said they have been working together for a long time.
“Unlike many of our peer institutions, we have the benefit of already having collaborated closely as two organizations,” Marshall said.
The two organizations work in the same buildings, share the same online database, and host events together. Marshall said she sees the most important similarity as their mission to strengthen the university.
“We’re really focused on aligning these two missions that have been so closely aligned for a number of years, and the funding and programming of those organizations,” she said.
Those involved with forming the new organization are still working on filling gaps in the staff, particularly the director of educational engagement, but Marshall said that they should have one soon.
Faculty Senate President Peter Snyder asked what the faculty can do to help with the change, and Marshall said she wanted to focus on expansion of education for the alumni throughout their lives.
“What does it look like to be a lifelong learner and how can we serve as that source for those people who care deeply about the UI,” she said.