I’d like to share a few reflections with you regarding the Alumni Association’s commitment to you, our valued members, when events at the University become the focus of public controversy. My reflections come following the events surrounding the Gopher football team in December and January that received widespread coverage in local and national media.
Because you are at the core of the Alumni Association’s mission, our office sent two updates to members. In response to our communications and to media coverage, we received more than 300 emails from alumni as events unfolded—the suspension of 10 players, the subsequent threatened boycott of the Holiday Bowl by the football team, and the eventual change of leadership in the coaching staff in the weeks following the Holiday Bowl game.
Many of you applauded the University’s actions. Many of you were critical of them. Some had questions and wanted to better understand the situation, and a few criticized the Alumni Association. All of your letters were impassioned, some with anger, some with pride, but each with the depth of feeling that naturally comes with being deeply invested in the University.
I read all of your emails, as did several of our communications staff members. We responded to all of them by email or in some cases by phone. After we read them, we forwarded them to the appropriate leaders on campus to ensure that they heard your voices.
I say this to underscore our commitment to this kind of open communication. As you are aware, the University is a large institution and it is not always easy to know how or where to express your views or get your questions answered. As members, you can count on the UMAA to be that place. I assure you, we are listening.
It’s fair to say these events have prompted a great deal of conversation on campus. Your correspondence and calls are part of that conversation. They have reaffirmed something I learned very early in my tenure here at the Alumni Association: Without exception, alumni have high hopes for and expectations of the University of Minnesota and the Alumni Association—and rightfully so, as your relationship with us is the foundation of what we do. We will continue to honor that relationship by listening, dialoguing, and keeping you informed in the pages of Minnesota Alumni, in our emails to you, and other channels.
We value your relationship with the Alumni Association. Thank you for your membership and for your commitment.
President and CEO