by Nathaniel Shahan
For many current students, the notion of someday being Kenyon alumni is an inevitable occurrence, but not one to dwell on. However, 13 members of the Class of 2015 have already begun their transition into the next phase of their Kenyon experiences. These are the Alumni Leaders of Tomorrow (ALOT). Founded in 2008, ALOT is a volunteer class-specific alumni organization. Members join as seniors and work throughout their last year at Kenyon to fund their class’s legacy.
Maddy Jacobs ’15, senior class president and an ALOT member, described the organization as “a coalition of students who have come together and are committed to making sure the spirit of Kenyon and the sense of community lives on.” Jacobs explained that ALOT places emphasis on individual class years, allowing members to work with their classmates after graduation and act as representatives for their class within the general alumni pool. Jacobs said that “one of the primary goals of ALOT is to work with the Kenyon fund to help build up our … endowment.”
David Hoyt ’14, who was a member of ALOT during his senior year, says that he became a class agent on the Alumni Council in part because of his experience with ALOT. “I definitely wanted to be an active alumnus; [joining ALOT] looked like a good way to get into that,” he said. Hoyt, who returned to campus last weekend for a class agent event, said that in his meetings, “some of the older alumni really appreciated having that group of ALOT members there to talk to them about what current student life is like.”
Like many other alumni organizations, the focus of ALOT will be to raise money for the College, and the group plans to do so primarily through a relationship with the annual Kenyon Fund, a relationship that Jacobs called “symbiotic.”
President Decatur said the College employs a broad range of strategies, including utilizing class agents, when drumming up donations for the Kenyon Fund. “I think quite a few [alumni] respond positively if one of their friends, former roommates [or] former hallmates … who’s now a volunteer actually gives them a call and tells them what’s going on on campus,” he said.
College rankings by organizations such as Forbes and the Princeton Review are in part based on how active alumni are. These rankings generally take into account the percentage of alumni who donate and not the size of the donations themselves. Because of this, Jacobs said that one goal of ALOT is to improve Kenyon’s status on such lists by increasing alumni activity.
“We’ve been in the low 40 percent range for a while now,” Decatur said, referring to the percentage of alumni who donate to the Kenyon Fund. Decatur indicated that the College would like to see that statistic improve, and that class agents can help with that goal.
“Participation’s important, partially symbolically in that it’s a statement that people feel passionately enough about the place to actually commit their own funds,” Decatur said. “It’s also important because it builds lifelong patterns of giving.”
Building those lifelong patterns of giving may not be a simple, monolithic task, given that, according to Jacobs, each class has its own character. “Our traditions and our values are the same, but as the College develops and the College changes, the people change,” Jacobs said.
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