University of Massachusetts alumni group will drop dues, membership will increase to 220,000
Daily Hampshire Gazette
May 1, 2010
On July 1, enrollment in the University of Massachusetts Amherst Alumni Association will jump from about 5,000 members to more than 220,000.
Seeking to engage more alumni and spur investment, the UMass Amherst Alumni Association is ditching the requirement that graduates pay $40 per year for membership. Instead, all UMass students, past, present, and future, will be automatically enrolled in the association, free of charge, following graduation.
Cutting the dues revenue during tight times for higher-ed is a risky move more colleges and universities are experimenting with as membership in alumni associations wanes. For the Amherst alumni association, this means cutting $200,000 to $300,000 a year in revenue.
But with only 2 percent of UMass Amherst graduates enrolled, the association felt bold action was needed to turn the tide. On average, membership in associations is about 18 percent of alumni, according to the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
In the past, low alumni engagement has been blamed for below-average donations to the university, decreasing the university's political power, devaluing a UMass degree and affecting new student recruitment.
"Everyone agreed it was time for a change," said Anna G. Symington, who has been the association's executive director for a little over a year. "The old model just wasn't working, or facets of the old model weren't working, and we're seeing this with other universities."