HAA Reviews Classes

The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) is reorganizing the way it reaches out to College alumni by focusing on generational class cohorts grouped according to related life-cycle experiences. 

To aid that process, the HAA has conducted its first-ever comprehensive class-governance review, examining class structures, leadership development, reunions, other class activities, and other alumni needs; the results were to be presented at the annual spring meeting of HAA directors on April 15. 

“This is not a ‘gotcha’ game of ‘How much money do you raise?’” says Timothy P. McCarthy ’93, HAA vice president for College affairs, a longtime class secretary, and a lecturer in the faculties of arts and sciences and of government. “It’s an ambitious effort to characterize on a much deeper level than we ever have before the landscape of alumni activity at the class level…with an eye toward integrating and fortifying the relationship among classes, the alumni population, and the HAA as an organization.”

The review, overseen by McCarthy and Robert P. Fox Jr. ’86, among others, has involved surveys sent to their fellow class secretaries (which yielded an 80 percent return rate), and a gathering of class data that includes histories on reunion attendance figures, gift-giving, and information from class reports. Class leaders and secretaries, among others, will attend the class leadership conference in Cambridge in September.

The reorganization has also created four new and more clearly defined HAA alumni-outreach committees grouped into stage-of-life cohorts: “Building New Communities” (undergraduates through fifth reunion); “Strengthening Alumni Foundations” (sixth through twenty-fifth); “Broadening Alumni Engagement” (twenty-sixth through fortieth); and “Maintaining the Connection” (forty-first and beyond). Previously, the HAA committees were “Classes and Reunions,” “Undergraduates,” and “Recent Graduates,” but “The ‘one-size-fits-all’ committee approach wasn’t really working,” adds McCarthy. “We need to do a better job at serving alumni at different stages of their lives.” 

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