More than 70 USC Alumni Club officials have sent a letter to President Carol Folt opposing the dismantling of all alumni clubs and chapters.
The letter also criticizes the lack of transparency that led to the plan by the USC Alumni Assn., which reportedly did not ask for feedback from the local alumni clubs.
“We believe that the USC Alumni Association did not carefully consider the perspective, morale, and positive contributions to the Trojan Family of those who participate in regional alumni groups,” the letter said. “They also grossly underestimated the breadth and intensity of alumni opposition to dissolving the regional alumni groups.
“Our regional alumni club board members and chapter leaders are among the most active, passionate supporters of USC, who work diligently to fulfill the mission of providing “lifelong and worldwide” connections that the USC Alumni Association pledges to its members. It saddens us that our efforts have been disregarded.”
FULL LETTER IS BELOW:
Dear President Folt,
We thank you for your leadership of the University during these incredibly challenging times. We are Trojans who have been actively involved in USC’s regional alumni network across the United States, writing to express our dismay over the dissolution of the university’s 45 domestic region-based alumni clubs and chapters.
Our alumni groups were left out of the process entirely and were only informed of the changes after the new program strategy was finalized and announced. Our feedback was never sought. It is contrary to every leadership principle to disempower other leaders who share the same mission. Yet, that is exactly what was done and it has disenfranchised thousands of Trojans from their local alumni communities.
The lack of transparency was further compounded by the laissez-faire response from the USC Alumni Association (USCAA) upon hearing the near-unanimous objection from the regional alumni group leaders. We invite you to watch the recording of the Zoom Alumni Town Hall on June 23rd , 2020. The level of frustration and disgust among the nearly 400 alumni in attendance was clear as was the dismissive tone of the USCAA leaders.
We believe that the USCAA did not carefully consider the perspective, morale, and positive contributions to the Trojan Family of those who participate in regional alumni groups. They also grossly underestimated the breadth and intensity of alumni opposition to dissolving the regional alumni groups. This letter represents a small microcosm of the thousands of alumni and other members of the Trojan Family who have already expressed, and will continue to express, their strong negative reactions on social media and other platforms.
According to the USC Mission Statement: “An extraordinary closeness and willingness to help one another are evident among USC students, alumni, faculty, and staff; indeed, for those within its compass the Trojan Family is a genuinely supportive community. Alumni, trustees, volunteers and friends of USC are essential to this family tradition, providing generous financial support, participating in university governance, and assisting students at every turn.”
Our regional alumni club board members and chapter leaders are among the most active, passionate supporters of USC, who work diligently to fulfill the mission of providing “lifelong and worldwide” connections that the USC Alumni Association pledges to its members. It saddens us that our efforts have been disregarded. We can only hope that alumni morale will recover from this ill-conceived and even more poorly communicated experiment.
On behalf of the signatories, we ask for the following:
- Adopt an additive, rather than destructive, approach. We recommend maintaining the existing 45 regional clubs and chapters. This is the standard approach that every major university alumni organization takes. There are no insurmountable barriers to running the new model alongside the existing regional alumni groups. We believe that a solution that is mutually acceptable can be reached.
- Provide support for local alumni initiatives to raise awareness and help ensure a more consistent alumni experience across regions. We recognize that differing levels of resources across alumni groups exist, and we appreciate the USCAA’s interest in sharing best practices to help regional alumni groups make improvements in event quality and outreach.
- Establish an official feedback mechanism and regular cadence for gathering and sharing insights from each region about what is working well in the new model, and where there may be room for improvement. If there is an issue with a specific regional alumni group, communicate it clearly in a timely manner and collaborate on a solution. Continuing feedback and open dialogue are fundamental for success within any organizational structure.
As Trojans, we Fight On through adversity. We know that we will get through this challenging time together and will always maintain a strong affinity for our beloved University and for the Trojan Family. We look forward to your response and to working together to chart a new path for our regional alumni that will ensure their connection to USC truly is “lifelong and worldwide”.
Thank you again for your efforts and leadership in moving our beloved University forward. Together we can make sure that everyone is included in this process.