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Alumni Advisory Councils Tap Rich Resource

February 2014 | by Ted Stephens III '01, '04

St. Ambrose University graduates will have an opportunity to play a larger role in shaping the education the institution provides through a new alumni advisory council program.

"We know our alumni are making a uniquely Ambrosian imprint in the communities in which they live and work," said Jim Stangle '82, vice president for advancement. "We have heard their stories time and time again-and wanted to find a way to bring those stories to the table, and collaborate with them, to make St. Ambrose better.

"Our alumni understand what students need to study today to help them realize their vision for success," he continued. "That's why we are developing these new advisory groups-to enhance the education we offer and strengthen our relationship with our alumni."

Ryan Brant '02 MCJ, senior director for individual giving, has been working with Stangle to get the program off the ground. He said academic deans and other administrative leaders also are active in determining the mission for the councils.

They share input as to who might serve on the committees and how often groups will meet.

To start, councils have been made up of about 10 alumni who live in Iowa and Illinois, making it easier for them to travel to campus. The goal is to expand the size and geographic make-up in the future.

The initiative kicked off last November with the meeting of an alumni advisory council for the College of Arts and Sciences. An Athletics Department council met in December. The university is in the beginning stages of developing councils for Student Life and Campus Ministry. The program builds on the success of the advisory groups for the College of Business and planned giving that have been around for years.

For Teresa Brinati '82, the opportunity to be of service to her alma mater is reason enough to be part of the College of Arts and Sciences council. "I think councils like this have the potential to be beneficial because the students can see how the academic degrees they are working toward translate career-wise," she said.

Brinati graduated with a degree in English, and went on to earn a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Northwestern University. Today, she is the director of publishing at the Society of American Archivists in Chicago. There, she oversees the print and digital media operation.

She said the first council meeting allowed her to "see the school's evolution and to be reminded that I am a part of that continuum.

"It's also instructive to interact with the faculty and students," she said. "There are initiatives and programs at the school which already have given me ideas for consideration within my own organization."

Brinati walked away from the first meeting energized at the possibilities and encouraged by what she is already seeing at St. Ambrose.

"I was impressed with the number of students who are double majors—they are hedging their bets by pursuing something of strong personal interest in the liberal arts with something perhaps more applied," she said. "I am an unabashed advocate for the liberal arts. You get a broad knowledge base, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and enrichment to last a lifetime. This makes you infinitely employable, not to mention qualified to succeed in an assortment of professional pursuits."

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