Conference inspires, empowers alumni leaders
By Steve Seepersaud
More than 200 of Binghamton University's most closely engaged alumni returned to campus for an experience that was meant to deepen their relationships with their alma mater. The Alumni Association sponsored its first Alumni Leaders Conference on April 26 and 27.
Through a thought-provoking set of programs, the Alumni Association wanted to inform graduates about the Binghamton University of today, its future opportunities and challenges, and how alumni can be drivers of the University's success. The goals were to inspire alumni volunteers to become even further involved and encourage their peers to be engaged.
Programming included a keynote session at which President Harvey Stenger discussed the Road Map strategic planning process, a discussion of success stories in building alumni communities, a power briefing by the University's academic deans and a session about how the University is funded.
Recognizing that the enterprise of alumni relations is the responsibility of the entire University community, a number of campus partners helped to plan the conference, which also included student-alumni networking events.
In his remarks that preceded Stenger's keynote address, Alumni Association President Raymond G. Russolillo '80 told the alumni why their involvement is so crucial.
"As alumni, we are what the University produces," Russolillo said. "We validate the mission of the University. We help the University's leaders realize their hopes and aspirations. Alumni are reminders of the core principles upon which the University was founded."
Alumni attending the conference had participated in a vast array of volunteer opportunities, but shared a common sentiment of wanting to give back to an institution that has given so much to them.
"There was so much I learned about myself at Binghamton, and I took so much into the real world," said Geraldine Toussaint '08, an admissions, career development and Metro New York Chapter volunteer. "I appreciate that so much that I have to stay involved. I owe it to students to share my experiences with them and help them."
"For me, it has been amazing to see the progression at Binghamton University," said Justin Joseph '05, MBA '06, who has been active in planning TAU alumni events. "From when I started in 2002, now to 2013, there have been so many changes. There's a pride that I have. I want my school to be the top public school in the country. My involvement, whatever it can be – time, money or mentoring students – can help the University get to the next level. One person can't do it; together we can all make a difference."
Hakeem Jeffries '92, the first Binghamton University graduate elected to the U.S. Congress, was the featured speaker at the Alumni Association Special Recognition Awards ceremony. In his speech, Jeffries, who took office in January and represents portions of Brooklyn and Queens, shared what has meant most to him about Binghamton University.
"I met my wife here. We've been married more than 15 years, and I think it's wonderful that we were able to make the connection at Binghamton University. I got an elite, first-rate education at an affordable price. I always felt the education I got at Binghamton put me in the same position, if not better, than anybody who was around me," Jeffries said.