Minutes, Feb. 17, 2010

Minutes of Alumni Board Meeting of Feb. 17, 2010

Board of Directors members present: Brett Wendt (pres.); Tom Dillon; Paul Shoemaker; Robert Blackney (president of SA); Richard Miller; Geza Keller; Charles Major; Michaela Gorospe (representing GSA), John Dowdle, Linda Linden

Also: Kathleen Hedges, Louise Chamberlin, Edie Steinhoff, Colleen Guengerich (phone); Dr. Daniel H. López (phone).

Brett calls meeting to order.

Since Dr. Lopez must return to the legislative session, he is invited to speak first.

DHL: First point: there is a brand new staff in Advancement, with a new attitude, Colleen and two others. We will support whatever the board wants – independence or not. I believe that some previous information or communications from the board never reached me.

Second: biggest issue for Advancement is database. The cost and installation time for Banner is prohibitive. For Raiser’s Edge to be updated and staff to be trained is around $50K. This should ensure accurate, timely communication.

When the Alumni Board decides what kind of relationship they want with the university, we will certainly look at it. Your last proposal was responded to, but apparently the response did not get through.

We want a good working relationship with the board. Colleen and staff are anxious to move forward.

Brett: Thanks. We want a good working relationship. Our motions are to return the board to its status prior to 2001, when we were an independent organization. We are working out the details of structure and governance. We should set times to discuss common ground and move forward. Our efforts are to assist the institute as a whole.

DHL: Colleen will visit with Brett in Houston. We want a positive relationship with NMTAA. [Returns to legislature.]

Colleen: Since I started in December, we now have a full staff. Tony Ortiz has joined us, and Kathy Hedges is on board. Advancement’s biggest challenge is to get an updated database that we are all trained to use. Raiser’s Edge is not updated and we cannot generate reports in a timely manner. I estimate that it will take at least three months to get us upgraded and trained. We have also discovered that we need to reconcile our hard copies of records with both Banner and Raiser’s Edge.

We have a reception planned in Houston on Feb. 25 and one in Phoenix on March 2, in conjunction with SME. I feel positive about both the Tech administration and the Alumni Association.

Brett: We at NMTAA have the resources to help solve some of your problems. The need for Banner was fundamental. It sounds like a steep price tag for the functionality you are talking about; we in business can be more cost-effective. We can be part of your solution.

Tom Dillon: We at NMTAA need serious business tools so we can manage; we need to move forward, but for that we need a budget. When we give cash, we want to be able to implement our actions and have a predictable outcome. Over 20 years, we were a 501c3 with a liquor license.

Colleen: I took a fact-finding trip to Louisiana State, where I got to explore all facets of fund-raising. The relationship between LSU and its independent alumni association works well. AA separated because state was trying to nab their monies. We are trying to determine how symbiotic the relationship should be.

Auburn University has an independent alumni assn; director reports to both university and AA. Our staff can help you achieve your goals.

Dillon: The dollars we were contributing couldn’t go where we wanted them to go. As a separate 501c3, we would have the opportunity to sponsor tasks that the university couldn’t do itself. Tech’s Foundation is independent, but it is independent of alumni. Alumni need more than club status; we want to have fun as well as serve Tech.

Colleen: There are a lot of alumni we can tap into, once we have an effective database.

Dillon: The alumni association essentially died in the early 2000s; we need to put meat into it.

Brett: Other alumni assns that have meaningful roles have access to large amounts of funds. We didn’t have options available to us; there wasn’t a desire to let us grow. We need to develop outside of NMT, just as LSU went independent. We want to have something to offer Tech.

CG: The Advancement Office is limited by the state’s anti-donation clause and mounds of paperwork. We can continue to work together and try to move forward.

Charles Major: We would like to convey a sense to Dr. López that there is a great legacy he can leave behind, which is to develop an effective, active, contributing alumni organization, which Tech has never had. This could be a real feather in his cap, contributing potentially millions in decades to come. We want to give back.

CG: Dr. López has said he wants to leave a professional alumni association behind when he goes. I am committed to being at Tech for years.

Geza: We still have documents on the table; what will Tech’s response be? I never saw Dan in my three years as president of the Alumni Association. He is the ultimate decision-maker. We have an MOU and bylaws for his consideration; should set a deadline for his response.

CG: Dr. López will be present at the next meeting. Our office will get it done – getting a response to the documents. It may take some months. I don’t know what happened in the Advancement Office a year ago, but information didn’t move. I can get in to see Dr. López; you will also get to know Melissa Jaramillo better. This is what I want to dedicate the next three months to.

Brett: We hope you are successful; we need to get our own house in order, get the tools to do what we need to do. Once we’ve defined our roles, I think the relationship between NMT and NMTAA will be obvious. The MOU is based on a working model at another institution. It’s just a starting point – we never regarded it as a final document.

Paul Shoemaker: In regards to Dan López’s statement that information did not reach him: On May 16, 2009, Brett Wendt, Charles Major, and I met with Dan, Cheryl, and Ricardo to present our documents. Following that meeting, a memo dated July 23, 2009, from Ricardo Maestes to Dr. Lopez provided an administration reaction to our documents. In that memo, the word “cannot” was used 10 times and the word “eliminate” (or its equivalent) was used 24 times. That appeared to the Alumni Board as though the thrust of our documents was being vetoed.

CG: I have seen that memo. It talked about a staff person to carry out NMTAA’s needs; there needs to be an advocate to the NMT administration; I would like to be your advocate.

Tom Dillon: We need to move beyond processes to initiatives that are fun; need people of action; we need to select a path and go down it. The Institute has stymied our abilities to do anything. This is the first time I have heard from Dr. López. We need to move ahead and do stuff.

Brett: That is my pledge.

Tom: Nothing here is a crisis. If we form a 501c3, we can take action. We need a structure.

Brett: We could collaborate in financial aspects and vested interests. Alumni want to connect with each other and the current student body. We need to get it to where it’s fun; then people will support it; it’s a social issue, not a fundraising issue.

Brett: We want to establish ourselves as a legal entity, so we can receive and disburse funds. We want to establish an email address for all alumni. We will have to build a database of our own and determine what will be the interaction with the Tech database.

Geza: 9000 plus alumni is not a big problem.

Brett: Next meeting, we will have an open discussion with Dr. López over the documents, so we can add or correct. We need to start building an NMTAA history.

Tom: We would like to find old documentation on NMTAA, stating how it was constructed when.

Colleen: I will look for it.

Geza: Carol Lynn looked for it.

Louise Chamberlin and Brett Wendt agreed to discuss trip to Italy offline.

Adjourned 4:15 p.m., approx.