The Corner

Politics & Policy

Two Alumni Associations Fighting Back

George Washington University students on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., May 20, 2012. (Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS )

College alumni associations can be a force for good by rousing opposition to the “progressive” stuff that top administration is so prone to doing these days.

In today’s Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins focuses on two alumni groups — at George Washington University and the University of Texas — which have lately been active.

At GWU, the president of the alumni association wanted to merge it into the university’s Office of Alumni Relations. Some members, however, sensed a weakening if that happened, so they voted out that president. The new president of the association, Martin Baum, continued discussions with the university administration and had an agreement drawn up that was intended to protect the groups independence.

That move led to an unexpected backlash — the university announced that it was terminating its connection with the alumni association and would create its own internal alumni group.

Watkins quotes Baum, who believes that integration with the university, ” would have been a little bit of a trade off—we would maybe lose a little bit of our independence—but at least we would have a seat at the table and be very involved with the [university’s] strategic direction. And now, we don’t have a direct seat at the table, but we’re totally unburdened to communicate [with] and represent alums, and try to influence what the university decides going forward.”

At the University of Texas, the constant leftward march of the school caused one alum, Mark Pulliam (who has also written for the Martin Center about that very problem) to start a new alumni group called “Stop the Insanity at UT,” which has rapidly grown in membership. The group has been shining light on the university’s leftward drift and Pulliam thinks that the early resignation of the chair of the UT Board of Regents was due to the influence of his new group.

Alumni can make a difference!

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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