Student Alumni Initiatives: Chapman University - Silver Award

Category 1H: Alumni Relations Programs – Student Alumni Initiatives
Chapman University
Chapman Ambassadors Program
Silver Award

Margie King, Ambassador Program Manager
Alumni Programs and Events Manager
Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
(714) 744-7031

Support Staff
One full time manager, one part-time student assistant

  • The Manager of the Chapman Ambassadors Program creates and manages the dedicated budget and administers all aspects of the program including programming, scheduling, training, record-keeping, recruitment, correspondence and uniform management. Approximately 8 hours per week, or 400 hours per year are dedicated to administer, advise and enhance the program.
  • A student program assistant dedicates approximately 8 hours a week attending to details and records of the program and supporting the manager.

Goals and Objectives of the Program

  • Assist the office of the President, University Advancement, the Alumni Association and the university at large in development efforts by rendering outstanding assistance at events
  • Represent the diversity and talent of our student body
  • Train members as responsible and philanthropic students and future alumni leaders

The Program
The Ambassadors Program initially formed in 2000 to assist with a few events, but dwindled in the absence of a committed leader. Spring, 2005, the program was re-ignited. As Manager of Alumni Programs and Events, this seemed a logical inclusion of my position as the Ambassadors would be a strong asset to Alumni as well as the campus at large.

The objective was to re-design the program, create a budget, secure funding, excite current students, recruit new members, and build a program that would present outstanding student leaders to guests and dignitaries at campus events ranging from meetings and mixers to high-profile donor galas. The challenge was to create a win-win program that would benefit both the advancement of the university and the volunteer students.

During college, I had the privilege of serving as a member of a senior honorary, Mortar Board that gave me a vision of the potential of the program. I set forth to build the organization on that model. Three years later, the membership has jumped from 13 members to 30, and the solid program receives praises from our president, trustees, governors, University Advancement, deans, alumni, parents, esteemed guests, and especially the students involved in the program. The members are deeply committed and enthusiastic about their participation, and continue to set higher standards and goals for the program while raising the reputation of Chapman University.

The Process
Many steps were taken to grow the successful program. (* see supplemental materials)

They include:

  1. Interviewing members regarding their past experience, their level of commitment and recommendations in re-starting the program
  2. Establishing an executive council among continuing members, giving them ownership and responsibility to govern themselves
  3. Re-structuring the program by working with the executive council in setting new standards and goals, and updating the constitution and by-laws
  4. Creating a membership manual covering all aspects of the program *(enclosed)
  5. Equipping members (continuing and new) at mandatory fall training and regular meetings
  6. Establishing a working budget: * (Itemized in the enclosed proposal copy)
  7. Securing initial funding from an alumni donor for the first year * (see enclosed proposal). In addition to a small donation from a trustee, continuing years are being funded by University Advancement as a result of the overwhelming impact of the program
  8. Developing procedures and materials to recruit, interview and select new members *(enclosed)
  9. Branding the group by designing a custom Ambassadors logo (* see enclosed manual)
  10. Branding the Ambassadors with new and professional uniforms for formal and causal events
  11. Exercising comparative shopping to reduce uniform costs and extend the budget
  12. Gaining recognition for the group as well as individual members:
    • Building a website to include:
      1. Home page describing the program with group photograph
      2. Alumni Ambassadors page (as members graduate, they are moved to the alumni site and career profiles are updated as received) (recently activated)
      3. Program purpose and mission
      4. List of events at which Ambassadors assist
      5. Link to individual picture and biography of each member
      6. Request for Ambassadors at events (in turn, processed as an e-vite to members
      7. Membership information and application forms
      8. Contact information for the program
    • Sending press releases with photos to home town newspapers of each member to celebrate their induction to the program
    • Repeatedly publishing articles in faculty / staff / administrative collateral regarding the purpose of the program, the availability of the Ambassadors to assist them at their functions, and the process to request their appearance
    • Securing an article on the program with a group photo in the Chapman Magazine, distributed to the entire Chapman community
  13. Developing relationships across campus and encouraging inclusion of Ambassadors at events
  14. Revising the process to assign Ambassadors for an event incorporating “E-vite”
  15. Initiating a record-keeping process to track involvement of members
  16. Dedicating time at meetings to evaluate each event
  17. Encouraging and applauding members for their commitment and impact
  18. Celebrating the success of the Ambassadors with a fall Induction Banquet, a Holiday Party in December and a spring Recognition Banquet to present certificates, commencement cords and presidential medals to graduating seniors and to welcome new members to the program
  19. Hosting Ambassadors Alumni Reunions during Homecoming
  20. Sending specific invitations to Ambassadors Alumni to appropriate Chapman events
  21. Maintaining high standards by recurring training

Target Audiences

Student members who serve:

  • 30 members of sophomore, junior or senior standing
  • Option to continue membership as a Chapman graduate student (without voting privilege)
  • Maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Have proven leadership and dedication to Chapman University
  • Know and promote the strengths of the institution
  • Qualify through an application, recommendation and interview process

Recipients of service:

  • All departments and organizations of the university requesting assistance at a wide variety of events.
  • Trustees, governors, speakers, honored guests, award recipients, visitors, donors, prospective students, alumni, parents, grandparents, families, faculty, administrators, staff, fellow students, and the Chapman community who attend events at which the Ambassadors serve

Total Number of Participants
When the program restarted in 2005, there were 13 members. After three years of incremental increase, we have achieved the planned maximum of 30 members. This growth has been recognized, approved and supported by University Advancement and Alumni Relations.

Alumni in Constituency (living & addressable)
Chapman University: 22,000 (Members who graduated 1861 to present)

Ambassadors Alumni: 71 (Members who graduated 2001 to present)
This will grow by approximately 10 members per year as graduating seniors become alumni.

Program Budget

2005 – 2006 based on 20 members $13,143
2006 – 2007 based on 25 members $12,790
2007 – 2008 based on 30 members $15,277
3 Year Total (for initial proposal) $41,210
Continuing years based on 30 members $15,000

In addition, the Alumni Relations Office, under which the program operates, has allocated $3,000 per year to employ a dedicated part-time student assistant through a Federal Work Study program.

Documented Results
Hours of service, training and new membership process

As the reputation of the Ambassadors Program has excelled, the membership has grown and the hours of service have increased:

2004 - 2005 182 hours (13 members) no records
2005 – 2006 686.5 hours (20 members) first year 377% increase
2006 – 2007 853.5 hours (25 members) additional 124% increase
2007 – 2008 948 estimated total hours * (30 members) additional 115% increase
(* Presently ¾ through the year with 781.75 current hours)

It is impossible to place a tangible value on the benefits of this outstanding program. The university could not afford to pay a large student staff to facilitate the events covered by the Ambassadors. Arbitrary volunteers would not be as reliable or equally prepared to extend the same personalized service. Most important is the impact these dedicated students have on our guests, donors, trustees, governors, alumni, parents, fellow students and the entire Chapman community. Their presence promotes an element of professionalism, genuine hospitality, and exceptional representation of our student body.

Of particular note is the outreach the Ambassadors extend to Alumni and University Advancement. They are the backbone of volunteers for the entire Homecoming and Family Weekend, the annual University Advancement 2-day fundraising gala, “American Celebration,” (which this year garnered $20.2 million for scholarships) and the alumni formal reception at the annual Chapman Economic Forecast. This is in addition to a long list of major special events throughout the year. They have built relationships throughout our university and alumni community that are invaluable.

The growing reputation, the escalating number of requests for assistance, the increase in membership and the enthusiasm of the students validate the success of the program. Frequent guests, such as Marian Knott, who donated $8 million to our new Marion Knott Studios at Chapman, specifically request the presence of students when they visit campus. Chapman presents the finest of our student body in the Ambassadors. The program is definitely a win-win opportunity for the university, for the students, and personally for me as the manager and mentor to the program. The Chapman relationship with these students continues well into their alumni years. The Ambassadors are a professional, walking advertisement for the outstanding quality of our institution. In time, they are certain to become be valuable assets as leaders of the alumni, trustees and board of governors of Chapman University.

The Chapman Ambassadors Program has been a tremendous success for the university. The members have raised the reputation of the entire student body and the institution through their personalized service and their high standards of excellence. They receive accolades of their outstanding assistance and requests for their participation continue to increase. Their strong and positive influence on our donors delivers living proof of the value of the investment in education. In addition, the lives of these student leaders are advanced as they learn the value of giving of their time and treasure. It becomes a lifelong practice.

As a perfect example, a decision had to be made between two final candidates to fill one last open position during the last recruitment. A soon to graduate Ambassador personally and anonymously donated $500, the amount needed to add one additional member to our budget. With this generous gift from a member, we were able to extend our membership to both candidates. This reflects the deep respect the members have for each other, for the program, and for their university.

Without a doubt, the Chapman Ambassadors fully demonstrate the purpose and mission of the program, the Alumni Association and Chapman University. They will forever be true Ambassadors for our institution.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead