The last year brought the most extensive alumni celebration in our institution’s history and a widespread appeal for your thoughts on our future.
We sat down with University of Lethbridge Alumni Association (ULAA) President Michael Gabriel (BA ’04) to discuss what’s ahead for U of L alumni.
What is the benefit of being a University of Lethbridge alum?
MG: It can look different for everyone. Even for those who don’t feel an
emotional connection, the University can serve a functional need. There is an incredible range of benefits and services available to our students and alumni that a lot of people don’t even know about. And the information we gathered through the survey is going to help enhance
If you’re looking for something more, there are opportunities to get involved at every level. It can be as simple as coming out to support our teams or see a performance. There are also opportunities to be on council, which is more focused on governance; to volunteer at events, which is often a few hours here and there; or get involved at the committee level and support a project that’s meaningful for you.
What is the ULAA’s biggest challenge?
MG: I am constantly running into people who graduated from the U of L but don’t think of themselves as alumni. That’s a challenge. For the most part, they’re enthusiastic about their time on campus and lots of them are still having great experiences with the U of L, whether through sports games or plays or events, but for whatever reason they aren’t considering themselves part of the bigger picture.
So, what is the bigger picture?
MG: We’re working hard to figure that out. The U of L is still quite young and the alumni voice is still emerging. We’re working on defining what that voice sounds like and what it has to say.
Alumni have always played an important role and the ULAA has been key in that process. We sit at the table — whether at ULAA executive meetings, or board and senate meetings — representing U of L alumni around the world. We take that responsibility very seriously.
We’ve been working hard to ensure the voices at the table are representative of our broader alumni community, both demographically and geographically. I’m looking forward to new members helping to broaden our view.
How does that sense of responsibility impact the ULAA?
MG: For me, it’s about understanding the needs of our alumni so that we can work to meet those needs.
The last year has really been about committing to that process. As a council, we’ve been looking at our operations and programming with a critical eye and going through a rigorous evaluation process. That included the addition of some new positions on council, the formalization of subcommittees and, most importantly, a comprehensive survey to all alumni about what they want from us.
And, what did you learn?
MG: We’ve come out with a better understanding of what alumni want from their university. While we had more than 2,000 responses, there were some common threads: career services, professional development opportunities, mentorship programs and lifelong learning initiatives all topped the list.
If you are interested in sitting on the ULAA Council or getting involved, please contact the Alumni Relations office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free 1-866-552-2582