|ALUMNI ACTIVITIES Winter 2000|
The 2000-01 chair of the Alumni Board of Governors, Lawrence E. Thomas, B.S.B.A. '77, wants YOUespecially if YOU haven't been back to campus latelyto participate in the exciting world of today's Washington University.
And it doesn't matter whether you live 10 blocks or 10,000 miles from campus.
"As alums," he says, "we're
all life-longers of Washington University." He points out: "Just
as our productive careers reflect positively on the Universiy, our Washington
University degrees are enhanced by what's taking place there today.
"The Washington University Web site not only gives alumni a great source of up-to-date information about what's happening on campus, it also offers alums and visitors a great sense of the University itself through its graphics and links," says Lawrence E. Thomas, B.S.B.A. '77.
"When I was a student in the '70s, all of us would have said, without question, that Washington University was a great school. Now it's even better and more diverseboth students and facultythanks to the leadership of Chancellor Emeritus [William H.] Danforth and now Chancellor [Mark S.] Wrighton. And the visibility of Washington University as a whole has greatly increased in the past few years."
Thomas views the current strength and growth of his alma mater from a couple of perspectives.
One is his own career in business. While still a WU undergraduate, he interned at Edward Jones, the St. Louis-based investment brokerage, was hired upon graduation, made partner five years later, and currently heads the firm's Syndicate and Unit Investment groups.
His career as a WU volunteer is equally impressive. It began with the National Black Alumni Council and has never stopped. He is a board member and past president of the Business Alumni Association; was a member of his 10th Class Reunion Committee and co-chaired his 20th; serves on the John M. Olin School of Business National Council; and, in 1998, was elected to the WU Board of Trustees. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University at Founders Day in 1997.
With the WU Alumni Association gone global, though, helping large numbers of alumni actively participate in the life of the University sounds like a tough, even impossible, proposition.
"Technology," Thomas says, "is key to getting folks back in the thick of things on the Washington University campus."
And, close at hand, he has an example of how well new systems can revolutionize personal communication.
Rapidly advancing technologies have enabled Edward Jones, which advises only individual investors, to go one-to-one with its clients on their own turf via its 6,000 neighborhood offices here and abroad (one of them probably right around the corner from you).
So as ABG chair, Thomas is in a good position to build on the technology platform initiated by his predecessor, Thomas Lowther, J.D. '62, M.L.A. '99, with the help of Laura Ponte, assistant vice chancellor for alumni relations [laura_ponte@ aismail.wustl.edu].
Enter the Internet.
"Like many alums," Thomas says, "I didn't grow up using the Internet. That translates: If it's easy, I'll use it. If it isn't, I won't. And these days, if you don't own a computer, your public library has one you can use to access the Internet.
"The Washington University Web site [wustl.edu] not only gives alumni a great source of up-to-date information about what's happening on campus, it also offers alums and visitors a great sense of the University itself through its graphics and links."
The alumni pages [alumni.wustl.edu] already offer a wide and various menu, one that, Thomas says, the Alumni Board of Governors hopes to help make better and better. Currently, it includes, among many other offerings:
The popular online Alumni Directory. It's free of charge, secure, and designed solely for the use of Washington University undergraduate and graduate alumni.
Reunion information. "While technology enables us to keep in touch with one another and our University, no matter the distance, there is still nothing like coming 'home' to Washington University," says Thomas. For instance, the popular Reunion staple "Classes Without Quizzes" offers alums the opportunity to hearand questioncurrent faculty lecturing on a wide variety of topics. And, of course, Reunion allows one to catch up with the changing face of the Washington University campuses.
WU Alumni Clubs-sponsored events, listed by city. Alums distant from St. Louis often have the chance to meet University faculty and/or administrative officers, who bring the latest news from campus, and can answer questions about the Washington University of today [see sidebar].
The Alumni and Parents Admission Program (APAP), which involves alums in the future of the University, as well as the present. Alumni interview students from their area who have applied to WU, and their interview reports provide the undergraduate Admission Committee with additional information about the student that may not have been evident in his or her application.
The Campaign for Washington University and the Annual Fund. Thomas advises alums, "We've had a good year [in 1999-2000], but we have to keep our eye on the ball and meet the challenges of the Campaign. Making a gift to your school through the Alumni Annual Fund is a sound investment in Washington University's future!"
International Relations. Keep track of University activities on the Pacific Rim through Asia Extra, the quarterly newsletter for the University's alumni, parents, and friends in Asia.
Passport to Knowledge travel program. Washington University puts the world at your feet.
"We value our alums," Thomas says. "If you can't be on campus, we'll bring the campus to you.
"The accomplishments of our students and faculty, our innovative programs, and our important research show up in the national media all the time. We'll do our best to have the alumni pages and their links get you behind the scenes of those accomplishments."
Speaking of national media: What does Thomas think about those college and university rating systems? (In U.S. News and World Report's 2001 college rankings, WU moved up from #17 to #15 in the Top 20, tying with Brown and Johns Hopkins.)
He is philosophical: "Nobody should pay serious attention to those rankings. Of course," he laughs, "if you happen to be right up there and applications are booming, as they are, you might be forgiven for feeling good about it."
And the Presidential Debate?
He laughs again and says, "That kind of visibility helps. After the 1992 presidential debate, people stopped asking me if I had gone to school in Seattle."
Alumni Board of Governors
The Alumni Board of Governors chair and executive vice chair also serve as alumni representatives on the University's Board of Trustees.
Mr. Lawrence E. Thomas
Mrs. Marie Prange Oetting
Mr. Jerome F. Brasch
Mr. Norman Foster
Mr. John L. Gianoulakis
Ms. Celia L. Hosler
Mr. Thomas E. Lowther
Mr. René Morency, Jr.
Dr. Gordon W. Philpott
Mrs. Sally Kopolow
A Glimpse at Recent West