Following are excerpts from Ford Little’s remarks at the June 20 meeting of the Alumni Association Board of Governors in Knoxville.
The UT Alumni Association is at a wonderful point in its history. With more than 315,000 members in every state and most countries around the world, incredible support from President Petersen and each of our campus chancellors, an enthusiastic alumni staff led by our new executive director, Lofton Stuart, and volunteer alumni leaders in chapters across the country eager to serve our membership, we have an opportunity to make the Alumni Association the best it can be.
Over the next 12 months, it is important that we continue to strive to improve the association and, more important, serve the university. One practical way is to actively participate in alumni events. Since a vital function of the association is “friend-raising,” I encourage you to attend chapter and campus alumni events, which are a great part of this process. A second practical way to serve the university is through student recruitment. Each of us has an opportunity to be involved in this process by hosting or helping staff a [high-school] honors dinner, participating in a recruiting party, or by simply encouraging a student to attend college at UTC, UTK, UTM, or UTHSC. Take it upon yourself to communicate with the university’s alumni office or one of the campus’s admissions offices to learn about steps you can take to encourage those students to consider the University of Tennessee. A third practical way that you can serve the university is through financial support. Unlike many other alumni organizations, our Alumni Association has no membership dues, and we are not asked to be actively involved with telethons or raising a certain amount of money in support of the association by using pressure tactics. However, we should recognize that if we are to serve the university and its alumni successfully, it is important to support the association financially.
As many of you are aware, my mother, Becky Little, served as a past chair of the [UT Alumni Association] Women’s Council. In addition, one of her staff assignments during her years of service to the university was to provide support for the Women’s Council. My family is pleased to announce that we are providing an endowment in honor of Rebecca “Becky” Ford Little in support of the UT Alumni Association Women’s Council chairperson position. Our intent is to provide monies to help pay for the expenses that the chairperson incurs in performing her role at Women’s Council programs on behalf of the university. In like manner, I encourage each of you to consider giving, whether it is through an endowment or otherwise, to the UT Alumni Association or its component parts.
Finally, I would like to introduce two new ideas for the alumni association. The first is an opportunity for chapters. When a member of the UT Alumni Association moves to some other part of the country or state, it is important for that person to become a part of that [new UT alumni] community. UT alumni may be the only people in the area with whom the person has something in common. We are going to work with individual chapters to allow them to initiate communication with new residents to invite them to attend alumni chapter functions and develop relationships with other UT alumni. The other idea is that over the next 12 to 14 months, the Alumni Association will embark on formulating a strategic plan that will work in conjunction with and support of the overall mission and strategic plan of the university. I look forward to reporting to you on the strategic planning committee’s progress during the coming months and to the announcement of the committee’s findings in the near future. In the meantime, I am excited about working with you to make our Alumni Association the best it can be, serving not only the university, its students, faculty, and administration but also the more than 315,000 alumni around the world.