President's Perspective: Imagining New Opportunities
Among the most rewarding aspects of our work in advancing education is creating opportunities for others. Through effective marketing and communications, ambitious fundraising, engaging alumni relations programs, and persuasive advocacy, we help institutions transform lives for millions around the world.
As the former vice-principal of advancement at the University of Melbourne, I fondly remember the Welcome to Melbourne program—a joint initiative between the student services and alumni relations teams. Host alumni families in Australia connect with new students from developing countries over a home-cooked meal, a unique Melbourne experience, or a cup of coffee (and Melbourne's coffee is hard to beat). It was moving to see how eager alumni were to ease the transition and how much students valued this support.
I have also been fortunate to meet many scholarship recipients whose lives were changed because they received an education, thanks to the generosity of donors. Equally inspiring has been helping colleagues share powerful stories of how our schools and universities educate future leaders and provide centers of excellence for life-transforming—and at times life-saving—research.
Members turn to CASE for research, publications, the InfoCenter, and more than 200 worldwide professional development events each year—resources that improve your advancement efforts and help you create opportunities for others. CASE honors, celebrates, and shares the goal of advancing education to transform lives and society. That's why we're reimagining our efforts and creating new ways to be a greater resource to you.
Benefits to better serve you
Today, educational institutions have few geographic boundaries, as the Melbourne example shows. Many institutions recruit, fundraise, and engage alumni throughout the world. Thanks to technology—often at the expense of our downtime—our work is 24/7. Chances are, your work has changed in ways unimagined even just 10 years ago. And the pace of change, as we know too well, continues to quicken.
CASE is focusing on helping you to be future ready. For three years, the CASE Board of Trustees and the remarkable CASE staff have worked to remove barriers to our benefits and services. The result: an enhanced—and simpler—approach to CASE membership. As of July 1, we will have a single tier of membership. Every staff member on your roster (please ensure they are listed with us) will receive a world of new benefits, including:
- Complimentary webinars;
- Access to this award-winning publication;
- Assistance from our InfoCenter staff;
- Talent management resources;
- Membership in the CASE Affiliated Student Advancement Program (ASAP);
- MatchMyGiftTM App.
Why the change? Through extensive research, including surveys and focus groups, our members told us that this is what they want. Just as you remove barriers for people seeking an education, so too must we remove barriers to your essential professional development tools.
The change requires increased investment on our part, with new processes and additional staff. We are eager and excited to offer these enhanced benefits to better serve you and your colleagues.
The enhanced membership model is just the beginning. One of the key initiatives during my first year at CASE has been working with our Board of Trustees on a strategic plan. Our goal is to reimagine, after 42 years, how we can be most relevant and supportive to our members. This aligns with our commitment to listen and learn from volunteers and members worldwide. The process has been consultative and inclusive, and I am grateful for the magnificent engagement levels. This bold undertaking has been guided by CASE's executive leadership team and a steering committee of remarkable volunteers from around the world.
Since launching this effort, we have conducted a comprehensive membership survey and met with hundreds of members, volunteers, educational partners, CASE staff, and other key constituents. Through the invaluable contributions of many, we are building a framework for the strategic plan, which will include a new vision, mission, and values statement.
Several key themes have emerged from this process, which will influence our strategic goals. Six task forces have been considering these themes, which range from how CASE can be an invaluable resource for talent management to how we can better advocate for our members and their professions across the globe. The Board of Trustees will consider the draft strategic plan at its July meeting. We look forward to sharing it with you, our members.
As we near this important milestone, your thoughts are as crucial as ever. This is yourmembership association, and we simply cannot do this work without you. Please read more about the strategic plan at bit.ly/CASE_Planning, and email your ideas and questions to me at email@example.com.
We value your thoughts and engagement in our future, just as we value the work you do to transform lives and create opportunities through education.
About the author(s)
Sue Cunningham is president and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), which supports more than 3,600 schools, colleges and universities worldwide in developing their alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing operations in order to advance their institutions. As CASE president and CEO, she provides strategic and operational leadership for one of the largest associations of education-related institutions in the world with members in more than 80 countries. She became president of CASE in March, 2015.
Cunningham engaged CASE and thousands of its volunteers in a comprehensive strategic planning process resulting in Reimagining CASE: 2017- 2021, an ambitious and comprehensive framework for serving CASE’s members and championing education worldwide. This volunteer and member engagement extends into a comprehensive effort to refine CASE’s governance structure to more effectively support CASE’s global reach and service to members.
Under her leadership CASE acquired the Voluntary Support of Education survey and created AMAtlas. CASE has reinvigorated its global advocacy agenda and is engaged in reviews of the curriculum across all advancement disciplines and an update of CASE’s management and reporting standards and guidelines, which operate as the industry-leading set of standards. She is most proud of CASE’s efforts to diversify the advancement professions and CASE’s commitment to talent management, within the organization and across CASE’s membership.
Cunningham serves on the steering committee of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, is a member of the Council of Higher Education Management Associations, the International Women’s Foundation, and serves on the fundraising committee for the Aurora Foundation.
Prior to CASE, she served as vice-principal for advancement at the University of Melbourne and as the director of development for the University of Oxford. She served as director of development at Christ Church, Oxford, and as director of external relations at St. Andrews University.
She is an honorary fellow of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a recipient of the CASE Europe Distinguished Service Award, and is a CASE Crystal Apple Award recipient. She holds a master’s degree from Oxford University and a bachelor’s degree in performing arts from Middlesex University.