Meeting Minutes

Black Alumni Constituent Society Board of Directors Meeting 
November 8, 2013

Members Present: Phil Anderson, Mike Chisley, Jarod Crowley, Pam Morris, Carl Radford, Sue Taylor, and Laura Waldron. Guest: Julie Stroh. Present via phone: Fred Cox, Teresa Jeter, and Allen Williams

Call to Order
President Pam Morris called the meeting to order at 10:15 a.m. She welcomed Julie Stroh, associate vice president, alumni programs, who stressed the importance of leadership development and of constituent society building and recruitment. She emphasized the importance of active membership, particularly when filling board vacancies.  Stroh pointed out that the Strategic Plan has a goal of 15% alumni undergraduate giving by 2017.  The target for FY14 is 12% and we are currently at 11.5%. Donor retention, as well as acquisition, is key. Stroh also noted that the Alumni Council is developing its first strategic plan since 2001. Terry King facilitated a workshop to that end and he will do another about leadership and committee development.

Carl Radford said he was shocked to read that Gora is leaving and would like to send best regards to the president from the board. Morris agreed and Stroh noted that President Gora would appreciate the gesture. The board will discuss this opportunity at the January meeting. 

Allen Williams asked for guidance on unique or creative ways to be more proactive or successful in attempts to raise BACS scholarship funds. Stroh said the key is a strong leadership team focused on fundraising. When the board has a consistent record of annual giving – e.g., this is what we’re doing, we invite you to do it too – it encourages others to give. She noted that at Miami, personal outreach from leadership was part of the process.  She added that having a cause supported by all also helps – the society has this with two scholarships and an operating/awards fund. Phil Anderson asked if a directory purchase will count as a Ball State donation. Stroh stated that a royalty comes back to the university as a gift. Gifts and advertising revenue will come back to the Alumni Association for programs - similarly to license plate (Legacy Scholarships – 100% funded by license plate fees).

The minutes from the June 8, 2013 meeting were unanimously approved after Radford’s move for acceptance and Jarod Crowley’s second.

Alumni Council
Mike Chisley reported on September 7, 2013 Alumni Council meeting. He noted that a Homecoming representative spoke to the council about Homecoming festivities. John Fallon, associate vice president for economic development and community engagement spoke about the university's push for economic and community development and noted that there is a strong focus on outreach and community involvement. He mentioned that Ball State needs to increase the number of faculty who live in Muncie and will be more involved with community.

Radford agreed that community involvement is key, and asked if Ball State faculty were involved in recent discussions regarding the school transportation referendum. He added concerns about Ball State’s involvement with the charter school system and questioned where the forum to raise these concerns was. Radford noted the pressure on organizations to raise money, and asked how groups can question the barriers up to that ability? Is university senate the appropriate venue? Morris noted that many of the other alumni societies may have a process as they are aligned with academic colleges. Chisley suggested bringing issues up to Alumni Council.

Discussion about various audiences and communities inspired Chisley to ask the board of directors to consider the following: what is the value of the BACS to the university? Who determines this value? Chisley believes the group should reinvent itself every 3-5 years and not remain static. What was done in 1985 may not be applicable to 2015 and 2020 – that’s every organization, not just BACS. At the council meeting there were small group sessions and strategic planning. At that point, he noticed a strong need for cultural diversity, which can mean lot of different things to individuals.

Morris suggested that the board should define inclusion and cultural diversity as much broader than race/ethnicity and espouse it to others, to make it a conversation with senior administrators on campus. Morris added that people need to feel valued and well received to remain on campus.  Williams noted that in regards to inclusion and cultural diversity, the BACS should be present at more than black alumni/student activities. Members should have a presence at a wide variety of university events. Campus participation and visibility will increase the value of BACS. Morris asked Williams to work on a broader list of university events that the membership can attend. She then tabled the discussion due to time and said that discussion will be continued and on the agenda for the next BACS meeting.

Chisley suggested that the BACS look at direction of council and Ball State and legitimately look at how BACS can raise funds for the group and the university, as well as develop an outreach program. He reminded the board that they have talked about outreach to students for at least 20 years and the board needs to be more proactive. Morris agreed and added that outreach needs to begin with freshmen. Students should be cultivated early to help them understand inclusion and philanthropy. Discussion on student engagement was tabled until the January meeting due to time constraints.

Chisley closed by resigning as the Alumni Council representative. He said that he had enjoyed the experience, but would like to focus on raising funds for a grant/scholarship given in his name for the Indianapolis Alliance of Black School Educators. He requested that the board appoint an assertive voice to the council, one who understands the board’s history. There was discussion that Tammy Butler Robinson had been selected as the representative in the event Chisley stepped down. Chisley nominated Radford in the event that Butler Robinson was no longer interested, but Radford did not accept the nomination.  Radford suggested that the board’s history be captured in writing. Williams asked that it also be included as part of new member orientation, along with information about membership expectations. Morris refers to the commitment form and the constitution as the two documents she will share with potential members in order to gauge their interest.

Phil Anderson decided not to renew his term expiring on December 31.  Everyone expressed thanks to Anderson. He has been a member of the alumni society for 15 years. Morris will plan a recognition for his contributions. Obie LeFlore also submitted his resignation. After much discussion, the following new members were separately and unanimously approved for membership terms expiring in 2016: Dori Armstead, ’95 (BACS member from 2006-11); Nikkia Jones, ’11; Jason Riley, ’02; and Allen Williams, ’73. Williams had been serving in an ex-officio capacity.  

Morris noted that the society’s faculty rep, Dr. Payne, retired on June 30. Charlene Alexander serves in Payne’s former position and Morris will ask her to serve as faculty representative starting in January. Morris will also ask director of the Multicultural Center, Ro-Anne Royer Engle, to serve as ex-officio.  Taylor noted that any faculty can be invited to serve as an ex-officio member per the by-laws.  Williams noted that Royer Engle wants to be very proactive in connecting alumni with undergraduates and would be a great connection.  

Membership responsibilities
Morris reminded the board that alumni society constituent groups are leaders and role models and that board members should be the first to make gifts before they ask others to invest in scholarships and the university. She noted that a $100 annual pledge is less than $10 a month.  She asked the board their thoughts on a minimum annual gift.  Radford and Anderson both agreed that a minimum expectation is beneficial.  Radford added that a $250 annual gift is only about $20 per month. It was also noted that alumni status in Black Greek organizations is a much higher annual commitment.  

There was much discussion on the benefits of a $100 or $250 minimum, including the possibility of discouraging prospective board members, to limit donors who have more giving potential, and the perception that this would be viewed as membership dues.  Most agreed that $250 would be a fair minimum, and that gifts would be designated to any or all of the BACS funds. Teresa Jeter asked what the time frame would be for the receipt of the gift. She noted that the earlier in the year that monies came in, more could be given in scholarships.  Ultimately, the board decided to give members a full calendar year to fill the minimum commitment. It was noted that new members must have made a gift prior to joining the board of directors. The motion for approval was made by Radford with a second from Anderson.

Prior to the vote, Chisley questioned the repercussions of not fulfilling the minimum requirement, for one reason or another. Morris said she will make phone calls to inactive members as she has done in the past. Radford noted that if the gift was not met in the current year then membership should not be renewed. Williams asked if other alumni societies were specifying a minimum annual gift.  If the university is leaving gift amounts to the discretion of alumni, then the board should as well.  Taylor stated that Stroh has suggested a minimum expectation, but there is not a plan in place to enforce it at this time. Radford’s motion on the floor requiring a minimum $250 gift by the end of the calendar year was seconded by Phil. The motion carried unanimously.

Chisley voiced disappointment that so many from the board did not attend the August reunion. Williams and Morris agreed, saying that it was possible some members did not understand that attendance was a responsibility/requirement. Radford does not like setting low standards and suggested that event participation be made an expectation to all, particularly incoming members. Morris noted that the board has floundered with setting expectations and follow through.

Black Student Experience
Williams noted that he is still working with John Straw in Bracken Library on chronicling the black student experience. Straw is creating video transcripts and digitizing photos, publications, etc. to move to more accessible technology. The history department has begun taking on oral history portion – starting with Dr. Myland Brown at Homecoming weekend. Bob Coatie and Hollis Hughes will be spoken to next. The university seems very interested and supportive of this project. Williams asks the board to look through their personal files for photos, documentation, etc. to be archived.

The meeting adjourned at 12:25 p.m. to work on the year-end fundraising mailer. The next meeting will be held in the Alumni Center on January 25, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. EST

Respectfully submitted, Laura Waldron