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Explore the History of Alumni Relations

1792 Yale University devises a system for organizing alumni by class. The Rev. Timothy Mather Cooley compiled biographical summaries for each member of his Class of 1792. Since then, with few exceptions, Class Secretaries named during senior year have compiled class address lists and biographical records.
1821 The first meeting of the Society of Alumni of Williams College is held on Sept. 5 "at the request of a number of gentlemen, educated at this institution, who are desirous that the true state of the college be known to the alumni, and that the influence and patronage of those it has educated may be united for its support, protection and improvement."
1823 Brown University establishes the short-lived Alumni Fund of Brown University during a Sept. 3 meeting. The Rev. William Rogers, a graduate of the first commencement of the university, is appointed to chair a committee “to raise a fund of $1000, in income of which should be used for the purchase of medals to be awarded to the winners of contests in declamation and composition.”
1824 One-half of the graduating class of 1821 returned to New Haven, Conn., at commencement by common agreement to receive an M.A. degree, a practice derived from the English system. Although graduates from Yale's earliest days had also returned to receive their M.A. degrees three or more years after receiving their first degree, the tradition established by the Class of 1821 strengthened a cycle of triennial reunions and eventually became the five-year system of class reunions known today.
1842 Virginia Military Institute alumni set up an independent alumni association on July 5, the day after their first graduates were conferred their degrees. The association will be incorporated in 1919.
1852 Cincinnati Wesleyan Female College establishes the first alumnae association. The association is organized by the wife of the college president.
1853 Donning the title “The Nameless Club,” this group formed in Pittsburgh as a means to keep in touch with the happenings at Old Miami. Meetings were held in the homes of the six members on a weekly basis to allow for reminiscing and socializing with fellow graduates.
1859 Williams College dedicates an alumni hall and chapel on Sept. 22. From the related sermon of President Mark Hopkins: “Separate from this, yet connected by the tower and spire, heavenward pointing for both, are the rooms for instruction of the two upper classes; and over these, united with each and all, is the Alumni Hall. So, through worship and instruction, religious and secular, but both pointing to heaven, would we raise our Alumni to their own place, and send them thence into the world.”
1874 At the request of several alumnae the college prepares an outline of independent study to be pursued at home. The catalogue describes the program as including "the most important periods in Latin, French and German literature...different departments of English and American literature; portions of Ancient, Medieval and Modern History, and topics in the Natural Sciences. Either Music or Drawing may be substituted for one of the two courses required to secure the certificate which will be given after examination in the work assigned."
1881 Nathan Wood becomes the first editor of Greetings magazine.
1890 Yale University organizes an annual giving campaign “to open an opportunity for contributions from the Alumni … to be applicable to any uses of the University, and to announce its readiness to receive contributions to said fund at any time and in any amounts.”
1891 With a long history of alumnae missionary work in Turkey, an informal group, the Oriental Alumnae Club, is established as the college's first foreign alumnae club. 
1897 The first full-time, paid alumni secretary is appointed at the University of Michigan: Ralph H. McAllister of the '89 law class.
1913 On Feb. 21, the Association of Alumni Secretaries (AAS) is formed. H.S. Warwick, the first full-time alumni secretary at The Ohio State University, issued the call for the first meeting; 23 institutions were represented.
1917 The first alumni administration manual, Handbook of Alumni Work, is published. It is a 158-page volume covering alumni association organization and finances, as well as clubs, activities, and publications.
1918 Alumni Magazines Associated is formed with the purpose of securing national advertising. The organization was driven by Horace M. Lippincott of the University of Pennsylvania and Levering Tyson of Columbia University was elected as the first president. There are eight weekly alumni magazines in print: Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan State, Minnesota, Pitt, Princeton and Yale.
1919 The Association of Alumnae Secretaries is formed with 11 charter members. Florence H. Snow of Smith College is the first president.
1923 During the fourth annual business meeting of the Association of Alumnae Secretaries in Cleveland, Ohio, its members vote to disband as a separate organization and incorporate into the general association known as Alumni Secretaries. The AAS constitution is one of the earliest public documents to carry the explanatory note that “the word ‘alumni’ shall be construed to include both alumni and alumnae.”
1925 The idea for forming an association and inviting members to their first conference is sent out by Clarence McDavitt, chairman of the 1923-24 Dartmouth Alumni Fund. George Thompson of Yale University is an active early member.
1927 The American Alumni Council (AAC) is formed on April 30 through the merger of the Association of Alumni Secretaries, Association of Alumni Funds and Alumni Magazines Associated. The merger, spearheaded by Daniel Grant of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, leads to a combined membership of to 249 institutions and more than 400 individuals. Wilfred B. Shaw of the University of Michigan is the first AAC president. 
1928 Florence H. Snow of Smith College becomes the first female president of AAC. She is referred to as AAC’s “First Lady.”
1929 125 magazines enter the first year. The categories are "best editorial," "best write-up of an original idea in alumni work" and "best story based on an alumni achievement." The first award for alumni magazine editorial goes to the Wooster Alumni Bulletin for the editorial, "They were calling it Wooster Day," best write-up goes to Wesleyan College for the entry, "Atlanta Seniors Spend Day at Wesleyan" and the best story based on alumni achievement goes to the California Monthly for an article called, "The Vitamine Marathon: an Interview with Dr. Joseph Yoshioka."
1931 The first comprehensive survey of alumni work is undertaken by John G. Olmstead and published as the Survey of Alumni Achievement. The report indicates that there are 119 alumni secretaries in the field, the average salary is $3,205, and the average tenure in the profession is 2.5 years.
1933 Robert Warren “Tubby” Sailor of Cornell University is the first editor of AAC News.
1938 AAC conducts the first Survey of Annual Giving and Alumni Support. Of the 247 questionnaires sent out to institutions, 154 were returned, 86 of which had established alumni funds.
1943 The Robert Sibley Award is first awarded to Dartmouth Alumni Magazine based on the following criteria: 50 percent for the best handling of war obligations, 25 percent for presenting the continuing life of its campus and alumni and 25 percent for display of the best magazine technique.
1945 The annual AAC meeting is dubbed the “conference-by-mail,” as the actual conference was canceled due to the demands of World War II.
1951 On July 12, AAC sets up a national office in Washington, D.C. and hires Ernest T. Stewart, former editor of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, as its first executive secretary.
1955 The Alumni Service Award is established to recognize "outstanding service rendered to an institution and to the cause of education by organized alumni effort." It's awarded to The Ohio State University Alumni Association and the Alumni Board of Yale University. This award is later renamed the Ernest T. Stewart Award for Alumni Volunteer Involvement.
1956 The American College Public Relations Association, AAC and the Council for Financial Aid to Education undertake a collaborative nationwide survey of gifts and grants to American colleges and universities. 
1956 The last published AAC conference book is bound in scarlet and gray, the colors of Ohio State University and then-AAC president Kenyon S. Campbell, per the tradition of binding books in the institutional colors of current presidents.
1958 AAC and ACPRA hold the Greenbrier Conference on “Advancing Understanding and Support of Higher Education” at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. The conference becomes known as “Greenbrier I” and becomes one of the first places the term “institutional advancement” is used.
1958 The first Grand Award of Alumni Giving Incentives Program (now the CASE Educational Fundraising award program) is given to Texas A&M University. The program is launched with a grant from the United States Steel Foundation.
1962 The two organizations form a joint council to consider closer cooperation. This action leads to merging of the two organizations' libraries and increased coordination to avoid overlapping programs and dates.
1964 The magazine is designed to launch with the new half century of the American Alumni Council; Charles M. Helmken is editor.
1968 The event was held in Miami Beach. Several joint district meetings are held by the organizations.
1971 The first meeting of the Wells Commission, a study group on how to minimize program duplication by AAC and ACPRA, is chaired by Herman Wells, chancellor of Indiana University. Wells advises that “federation of the two bodies” should be pursued
1973 The AAC-ACPRA Joint Study Committee, successor to the Wells Commission, lays the groundwork for a merger of the two organizations.
1974 On Dec. 1, Alice Beeman, former chief executive of the American Association of University Women, takes the office of president for a newly unified AAC/ACPRA, which will be called the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Edwin Crawford is the first board chair. The new organization has 1,835 member institutions and 7,200 member representatives.
1974 The first conference of the new organization is the International Alumni Conference held Oct. 1-3 in Washington, D.C. Its goal is to reclaim some of the one million international alumni who had graduated from U.S. colleges and universities since 1945 and who had lost contact with their alma maters.
1975 Chicago's Palmer House steps up its $15-million renovation to welcome the first Annual Assembly of the merged organization July 8-10. Bernice J. Poutas of Simmons College is the conference chair. At the business meeting, member representatives approve the CASE articles of incorporation and nominations for the 28-member Board of Trustees.
1975 CURRENTS magazine is first issued in September 1975, with Virginia Carter Smith as the founding editor.
1976 CASE publishes its first book, The Changing World of College Relations: History and Philosophy 1917-1975 by W. Emerson Reck. The book chronicles the ideas and individuals shaping ACPRA.
1978 "Festival Fifty for Editors" in the CASE Recognition Program marks the 50th anniversary of awards for alumni periodicals. Newsweek joins in the festivities by offering a $500 grand prize and co-hosting a conference for periodicals editors.
1979 Cost-effectiveness, planning, dependent vs. independent associations and other topics come to the fore during an in-depth conference for the experienced alumni professional, "The Alumni Executive and the Challenge of the '80s," held in Philadelphia in May.
1980 CASE offices move to 11 Dupont Circle, its home base until 1998.
1981 The phrase "America's Energy Is Mindpower" fuels the first National Support Higher Education Day, held July 16. John W. Gardner is honored with CASE's first Jefferson Medal to salute a college graduate who has made extraordinary contributions to American society. 
1982 One thousand people gather at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 9 for the National Convocation for Higher Education sponsored by CASE. 
1982 CASE initiates the project and 10 other associations sign on to help develop the questionnaire and underwrite the cost. 1,888 persons, aged 18 and over and representative of the U.S. population as a whole, are surveyed.
1983 Some 300 students from 67 institutions vote to establish an organization to further cooperation between students and alumni. The Student Alumni Association/Student Foundation (SAAISF) begins to work through CASE districts to set up its structure.
1985 CASE holds the Colloquium on Professionalism in Institutional Advancement at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. The conference, known as “Greenbrier II,” focuses on ethics, research and standards in advancement.
1985 In its third year as co-sponsor of a survey of public attitudes about higher education, CASE finds that rising college costs and decreasing financial aid are the areas of greatest concern.
1988 CASE celebrates 75 years of organized alumni work with two homecomings. The "Columbus II Colloquium" in February brings together 74 alumni administration leaders to reflect and connect near The Ohio State University campus. Major themes include alumni advocacy, cultural diversity, and addressing pressing educational and societal issues. 
1988 Later that year, at the July Annual Assembly in Anaheim, Calif., the spotlight shines on the founding of the Association of Alumni Secretaries in February 1913 at The Ohio State University. 
1990 From Sept. 23-26, the University of Edinburgh hosts some 127 alumni and development professionals from 60 institutions. Core programming covers getting an alumni or fundraising program started, understanding the role of internal and external communications, cultivating alumni involvement and support and examining advancement's future in higher education in the U.K.
1998 CASE publishes the book Alumni Relations: Launching Your Program, by Gordy Taylor and Cathy Onion. By August, CASE has settled in at the building it purchased with other educational partners at 1307 New York Ave. NW.
1999 CASE publishes the first edition of Alumni Relations: A Newcomer’s Guide to Success, edited by John Feudo. A second edition is published in 2010.
2005 The Commission on Alumni Relations develops the CASE Principles of Practice for Alumni Relations Professionals at Educational Institutions to support the profession.
2007 The Commission on Alumni Relations develops the CASE Management Checklist for Alumni Relations (log-in required) to help new and experienced managers assess their programs.
2008 The Commission on Alumni Relations develops the CASE Guidelines for Alumni Relations Professionals on Establishing Vendor Relationships.
2010 CASE launches the Asia-Pacific Institute in Alumni Relations for newcomers to the profession.
2013 CASE celebrates 100 years of alumni engagement by recognizing the founding of the Association of Alumni Secretaries, a predecessor organization to CASE. The year-long celebration explores the proud past, present and future of alumni relations as an integral part of successful advancement programs.