In June 2010 the University of Tennessee Alumni Association's Board of Governors unanimously approved the recommendations of the UTAA's new Strategic Plan:
The Plan is the outcome of a year-long process that involved a tremendous amount of coordinated effort between UTAA and university staff, volunteer leaders, and countless alumni from all campuses. It's been a big job, but our commitment to the project has resulted in a document that, for the next five years, will guide our decisions about programming priorities and resource allocation. On a personal note, I'm genuinely excited about the Plan and am eager to see how it will gradually reshape the UTAA for the better.
Over the past fifteen years, the size of UT's alumni body has grown by one-third. This influx of young alumni, combined with significant changes in public funding, technology, and alumni interests, motivated the UTAA to undertake a strategic planning process for the first time in its 165 year history. With the help of our consultants, The Napa Group, we set out first to evaluate the current state of affairs. Most helpful in this regard was a thorough survey that was completed by nearly 11,000 of our alumni. While we've always assumed that we know what our alumni want and need, this was the first time we had ever really asked. Their answers formed the backbone of the Plan's main recommendations:
1. Our alumni are a diverse population with equally diverse needs.
The UTAA and the campus alumni affairs offices will be taking a lifecycle approach to alumni engagement and offer activities to each age group according to their specific needs. This will have the most immediate affect on how we communicate (high touch versus high tech), but it is also the driving force behind our renewed efforts in providing career services and networking opportunities.
2. Good Data is critical.
With an alumni population approaching 350,000 (and growing by the semester), 20th century modes of communication are no longer adequate. Improving our information systems and the data in them will remain an essential function of the system-level alumni office.
3. Communication. Communication. Communication.
The UTAA will use the strategic planning process as a platform to work with University and campus partners to better align alumni communications around central themes, institutional priorities, and areas of particular interest to alumni. In practical terms, this will mean better coordinating efforts with other system and campus communicators, sharing content, and making the best use of print and electronic media.
4. Legislative relations.
The UTAA's Alumni Legislative Council has long advocated on the University's behalf, but the Strategic Plan recommends a refocusing of those efforts in coordination with the University's Office of Government Relations and Public Affairs. This will involve formalizing grass root efforts, better defining roles and responsibilities, and improving our targeted communications with alumni.
5. Paying for it all.
The UTAA will continue to make a compelling case for continued financial support to the Board of Trustees, the University president, and the chancellors. The Plan further recommends expanding affinity partnerships, evaluating a tiered alumni giving program, and engaging volunteers in valued, meaningful activities.
The Strategic Plan is a kind of road map for the next five years. Beginning later this summer, the UTAA staff, in close consultation with our volunteer leaders, will move the Plan into its operational phase. We can't do everything at once. We shouldn't do everything at once. Rather, we'll begin by reaching for the "low-hanging fruit." We've already begun participating in communications meetings with other campus and system offices. We're reviewing our current governance model. We've made recommendations for improvements to our information systems. And we plan to focus staff resources on developing new career-related services and programming.
I consider the Board's approval of our Strategic Plan an important step in an on-going process. I want to personally thank everyone who has already participated, and I invite your feedback. Please, tell us what you think.
Thank you for everything you do for the University of Tennessee and for its Alumni Association.
UTAA Executive Director