Emory Report
December 12, 2005
Volume 58, Number 14


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December 12 , 2005
DUR strengthens ties with faculty through new programs

BY Michael terrazas

As Emory’s comprehensive fund-raising campaign starts to pick up steam, the Office of Development & University Relations (DUR) is developing programs that tap into one of the University’s greatest resources: its faculty.

Faculty participation will be critical to the campaign’s success, and to that end Senior Vice President Johnnie Ray has assembled a DUR Faculty Advisory Council, composed of 23 professors from across the University, to consult and provide counsel on DUR activities.

“I think faculty really want to understand better what we do, how we go about it, how we make our choices, what our broad strategy is, and how it connects with them,” Ray said. “This group creates a transparency that is highly desirable.”

The group has met twice already and will continue to meet twice a semester. Ray said its first activity was discussing outside perceptions of Emory, and he said there was significant congruity in what he has learned since arriving in summer 2004, and what the faculty thought.

“It’s amazing how parallel it is, frankly,” Ray said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do in terms of gathering empirical evidence that supports our assumptions—but our assumptions and [the faculty’s] assumptions line up almost directly.”

“It’s kind of fun,” said council member David Edwards, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology. “We broke into small groups and talked about how faculty might make better contact with alumni. One of the things we’re advising on is how best to market the University with our new strategic plan.”

Connecting faculty with alumni is the goal of some new initiatives from the Association of Emory Alumni (AEA). For years, AEA has recruited faculty through its Distinguished Lecture Series to speak at alumni gatherings far and wide. Now the association is hoping to take advantage of pre-planned trips to connect professors with former students; if a professor is taking a research trip to be paid for with department funds, he or she can contact AEA at least three months in advance, and if an arrangement can be made for the faculty member to participate in an alumni event, AEA could help defray the cost of the trip.

“Some alumni feel most connected to the University through their relationships with faculty,” said Allison Dykes, senior associate vice president for AEA. “And faculty sometimes enjoy having an audience for their particular interest, or maybe they’re interested in making contacts. Faculty are essential in advancing our alumni relations efforts.”

Another option is the Annual Fund’s “Dinner with 12 Strangers” program, in which an alumnus agrees to host about a dozen students and faculty at his or her home for dinner. And AEA also works with Emeritus College to honor older faculty who have made outstanding contributions as teachers and invite them back to campus. Finally, AEA hosts some 20 alumni trips per year to exotic destinations all over the world, and the association attempts to recruit faculty members with specialties in those geographic areas to serve as hosts.

Edwards said he first went on an alumni trip three or four years ago, traveling to Dallas, Houston and Washington to speak at AEA regional gatherings. “It was great fun,” he said. “I did some reminiscing about courses I had taught in the past; there were many alums there who had been my students, some going back 20 years. Then I talked about my current research, and we schmoozed a bit. It was fun.”

For more information on opportunities for faculty participation in AEA programs, contact Senior Director for Campus Relations Gerald Lowrey at 404-727-7323 or via e-mail at gerald.lowrey@emory.edu.