Stanford Today Edition: November/December, 1996 Section: On Campus WWW: Minority Alumni

Minority Alumni
How they feel about Stanford

By Elaine Ray

THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF STANFORD'S ALUMNI OF COLOR WHO participated in a recent survey look back fondly at life on the Farm. They take pride in their undergraduate degrees and feel they got a better value at Stanford than they would have elsewhere.

But those same alumni feel that after graduation they are essentially out of sight and out of the university's mind, according to a report presented to the Board of Trustees in October by its Task Force on Minority Alumni Relations.

The task force, headed by trustee Charles Ogletree Jr. (A.B. '74, A.M. '75 Political Science), spent two years examining the attitudes and experiences of minority alumni across the country. It found that 98 percent of minority alumni surveyed say they are satisfied with their undergraduate experience, but, like white alumni, barely 20 percent believe strongly that the university makes them feel that they are still an important part of the community.

Moreover, only 25 percent of respondents express a very strong personal commitment to the institution. Although these statistics include responses from both graduate and undergraduate alumni, the primary focus of the task force was on undergraduate alums.

To encourage increased engagement, the task force offered eight recommendations, including the creation of an Alumni Volunteer Clearinghouse responsible for identifying and coordinating opportunities for all alumni - regardless of ethnicity - to participate in university life.

The task force also suggested that the university continue and expand research and data collection on alumni of color and develop an "accessible student feedback system" to understand the experiences of current minority undergraduates. Also proposed was the establishment of opportunities for minority student-alumni interaction, including a career mentoring program and visits by alumni to undergraduate residences.

Of Stanford's nearly 150,000 alumni, 10 percent identify themselves as Asian American, Chicano/Latino, African American or American Indian. According to the report, 35 percent of all Stanford alumni under 30 represent those racial groups. ST