October 23, 2008

Seeking Leopards in New Territories

Alumni chapters joining effort to help recruit students in California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Southern Florida, and Texas

By Kate Helm

The vitality and enthusiasm of the College’s alumni chapters have long been a hallmark of Lafayette. The Office of Admissions is putting those strengths to use in a new recruitment initiative designed to help the College diversify the campus by bringing in more students from strategic areas underrepresented in the student body.

Paul McCurdy ’82, president of the Alumni Council, began thinking of ways to involve alumni in meeting recruitment goals when he attended a presentation last spring led by Roberto Noya, dean of enrollment services. He later attended a Posse Scholars dinner and discussed with Carol Rowlands, director of admissions, how alumni could help her office identify and reach out to areas where the College traditionally has not had success in recruiting students.

The targeted areas are San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Santa Fe, Houston, Dallas, the Chicago metro area, the Tampa Bay and Gold Coast area, and the Washington, D.C., metro area.

“The U.S. demographic is shifting and the College, under [President] Dan Weiss’ leadership and a key element of the strategic plan, wants to grow the Lafayette community into a more diverse and responsive student body,” says McCurdy. “We have 35 operating alumni chapters in the U.S. and some are very strong with excellent leadership. This is a great opportunity for the Alumni Association and individuals to serve the College in a way that is entirely in step with the College and admissions office and, at the same time, do what’s right. It’s a collaborative effort between the alumni and admissions staff to achieve an objective of the College and respond to the reality of a changing applicant pool. At the same time, if we’re good at this, it’s a way to get our alumni connected in a new and different way and improve the quality and diversity of our student body.”

Bill Tucker ’81, a member of Alumni Council and chair of the Alumni Association’s Chapters Committee, agrees that the initiative will rely on teamwork to accomplish its goals. He hopes the chapters will support Alumni Admissions Representatives (AARs) by providing insight and connections with those willing to help in each targeted area.

“By getting the chapters involved, we open the door to a tremendous resource of people,” says Tucker, who was an AAR in Arizona and California and a member of the Alumni Admissions Steering Committee. “It’s almost like a Pandora’s Box – we get all these folks who are actively involved in the chapter to help. It drives recruitment and the AAR side of things. I served as an AAR so I know how important the chapters are. It just makes sense to combine the two.”

McCurdy, a partner at the law firm of Kelley, Drye & Warren LLP, explains that this new initiative makes Lafayette a more attractive option to prospective students and makes the College a more enriching environment for students who accept admission.

“None of this is to dilute the selectivity of the College,” he says. “It’s designed to keep admissions selectivity at a very high level and at the same time, make the students interested in coming to Lafayette more diverse.”

He believes the initiative will benefit not only the student body, but the alumni who participate as well.

“One of the goals of the Alumni Association is to create opportunities for alumni to connect with the College,” he says. “College applicants and their parents will be impressed when they’re exposed to one of our great strengths, which is very engaged and supportive alumni. When people are making decisions about where to apply to college, they’ll see that the life of the Lafayette graduate is not just a four-year relationship but a lifelong relationship and that will be exciting and attractive.”

For Tucker, who is regional vice president of Biomet, a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of products for the orthopedic, sports medicine, biologic, craniomaxillofacial and dental markets, his stake in ensuring Lafayette continues to grow is a personal one. His wife is Barbara Strasburg Tucker ’84, a member of the Maroon Club board, and two of his sons are history graduate Nicholas Tucker ’08 and Alexander Tucker ’11.

Like McCurdy, Tucker believes the initiative is headed for success.

“There’s tremendous cooperation among all the groups at the College,” he says. “I’ve never talked to any group that hasn’t been willing to help. I think that’s the same situation here and why there’s no question in my mind that it will be very successful.”

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