Minutes, March 17, 2010

Minutes of Alumni Board meeting, March 17, 2010

Board of Directors members present: Brett Wendt, Geza Keller, Paul Shoemaker, Linda Linden, Michaela Gorospe, Tom Dillon, John Dowdle

Guest: Dr. Daniel H. López

Others present: Colleen Guengerich, Kathy Hedges, Louise Chamberlin, Katie O’Toole, Edie Steinhoff

Brett calls meeting to order. Invites Dr. López to address the board.

DHL: some recent concerns: due to legislative budget cuts, NMT is looking at a 5% cut next year. A cut of $2 million. Also, the location for graduation may move, because the main quadrangle is being torn up for installation of a new heating loop.

The first step in our working with the alumni association was Colleen’s meeting with Brett in late February. We are trying find out which direction you want to go as a board: whether you want to be a stand-alone group affiliated with New Mexico Tech or part of NMT. We need to get clear about your role.

Whatever relationship you want, we’ll try to make it work. My concern is that my staff isn’t consumed by NMTAA work. We have some major proposals pending and plans to approach private foundations. We are also considering a capital campaign for the goals of the school. Tuition will be skyrocketing, so fundraising for scholarships will be important.

The state is taking credit for more tuition, so we will have to raise tuition. I would like to provide better support for faculty travel to conferences and professional meetings. We also need to address equipment needs of young faculty, by providing research initiation grants for them.

NMTAA needs a bridge path to help morph into a self-sustaining organization. We can help you to gain self-sufficiency. When you decide, you can become your own separate, self-sufficient organization.

Brett Wendt: We are on the path to an independent status. We are doing the required legal filings. We have not met with any insurmountable issues. The missing parts are services for alumni; Tech needs help to fulfill that mission without additional financial burden. As we progress, we need to determine what our relationship is with NMT over the bridge process. We want to be in step with Dan López’s efforts. There are major issues around budget, fundraising, and staffing. We, NMTAA, need to be a larger organization.

DHL: Colleen has been looking at other arrangements at other universities. I believe the two she has examined most closely are at Louisiana State, where the alumni association is a separate 501c3, and Auburn University, where it is part of the university. I am just concerned that my staff is not pulled away from their main function.

Question: What is the size of the alumni associations at these universities?

Colleen: I don’t have the exact figures with me, but I believe it is in the hundreds of thousands.

Dowdle: 501c3 reporting regulations are onerous.

DHL: At Tech, we have a ½ time person to deal just with that, filing reports for 501c3s that are part of the university. This has to be viewed in relation to the dollars returned to the university.

Dowdle: This is a big step for a little group of people.

Brett: Accounting is easy when the income is zero. There are many 501c3s that run on volunteers. We are fortunate in that there are Tech alumni who are lawyers and CPAs, some of whom are willing to do this work for us on a pro-bono basis. When we’re larger, we can hire a firm to do the annual audit.

Geza: I ran a soccer league that is a 501c3 with a half-million dollar budget. It is not that onerous a task.

DHL: We have discovered, with the Foundation, that a 501c3 which is a component unit of NMT must be audited by the State auditor. That is a state requirement. The Foundation must be audited as part of the university. NMTAA would be charged for this auditing.

Brett: Good point, we would want to avoid that circumstance. If NMTAA had an account at the Foundation, we would need to be audited.

DHL: If we are the fiscal agent, finances must be audited by the state auditor. Proceeds must be dedicated to a non-profit entity, or the IRS can disqualify your 501c3 status.

Tom Dillon: We are looking for efficient ways to coordinate details during the transition.

DHL: The two people you would need to communicate with at the Tech end of financial matters would be Alex Thyssen, the accountant and financial bookkeeper for the Foundation, and Arleen Valles in the Business Office. You would need to designate a person from the alumni association to communicate with them.

Brett: Geza has been the one who has been following up on financial matters.

Geza: I accept.

Dillon: [something about opportunities to follow up.]

DHL: Colleen can be your point person for communications.

Geza: We can cover staff in the Bridge Agreement

Brett: We can work with Colleen and possibly Tony to work through details. Our Strategic Planning Committee, on our side, will know whom to call for advice or services.

Geza: We can set an agenda with Colleen offline.

Paul Shoemaker: I would like to thank Dan Lopez for sharing his experience with us in this endeavor. We think we have anticipated many of the matters you have raised, but we certainly don’t want to ignore lessons you have learned or to re-invent any wheels.

DHL: For the good of the organization, thanks in advance. We appreciate the work that Brett is trying to do. The IRS will probably have a follow-up to your filing. A 501c3 has to serve a public purpose. I am committed to be out of state on the date of the Langdon Taylor Dinner; otherwise, I wanted to present Brett the award from the President’s Club myself.

Dowdle: Please summarize.

Brett: I will get with Colleen and Tony to build a path forward from the current to a future status. Geza will handle financial communications and see about us not being in the same situation as the Foundation in re audits.

Dr. López departs.

Brett: Next order of business is the nominating committee.

Paul: We have a template for nominations. The committee meets in teleconference to discuss the nominees and make a recommendation to the board. That should happen at the next meeting, so the committee should meet before that.

John Dowdle and Linda Linden volunteer to be on the committee. Kathy will handle paperwork of incoming nominations.

Geza: We should not wait for the next board meeting to vote on the nominations from the nominating committee, but vote on them electronically ,as quickly as possible, in order for the recipient and presenters to make travel arrangements. There is no travel budget and as we know the alumnus will pay (in the form of airlines, hotels, cars, etc) for the privilege of receiving or presenting their award.

Brett: Once we’re running as NMTAA, we hope to be able to pay travel expenses.

Louise Chamberlin gives brief report on planned trip to Italy. She is working with AHI International, a professional travel company specializing in alumni trips. The trip is planned for May 20 to 30, 2011, featuring, Sicily, Sorrento, Mt. Etna, Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii, and Herculaneum.

Brett adjourns the meeting.

Next meeting: April 21, 2010, 3 p.m., Mountain Time.