Notes on the meeting of the Alumni Steering Committee

Tuesday 7 July 2009 at 5.00 p.m. School Office, Science Rd Cottage (A10)

Present: Mike Thompson (Chair), Robyn Overall (Head of School), Carla Avolio (Science Communicator), Warwick Angus, Chris Gillies, Jacquie Herbert, Roz Hinde

Venue and refreshments arranged by Sarah Newell.

  1. Apologies: Leila Blackman, Simon Borg-Olivier

  2. Update for 2009:
    • This being the first meeting for 2009, Mike Thompson outlined activities since the last meeting. Last year's cocktail party was a great success and there is a solid desire to capitalize on that success.
    • RO, MT and CA had met with the Faculty's marketing team on 21st April to discuss alumni issues. They were strongly advised to build momentum slowly and not to try to plan too many events in a short period of time. The objective is to engage with our alumni and to build the relationship with the ultimate objective of forming a formal Biology Alumni Chapter.
    • CA and MT met with Andrea Besnaud from the University's Alumni Office on 25th June to discuss our plans and to explore how the University can assist with our activities. The meeting was very fruitful, and Andrea and her office are available to provide assistance for alumni events.
    • Spring Back to Sydney in September this year will be for all alumni, and not directed at specific year cohorts, as in previous years. Biological Sciences will not be providing a stall this year.

  3. Next function:
    A wide-ranging discussion decided the following:
    • The next function should be on the evening of Friday 23 October at a time to be set, but from about 6.00 pm.
    • The venue would be the Macleay Foyer and Botany lawn (Carla to book)
    • The function would be underwritten by the School, with assistance being sought from the University's Alumni Office (MT to discuss with Andrea Besnaud)
    • Live music was considered important. An arrangement through the Conservatorium of Music will be investigated again this year as one option.
    • The Biology Society would be invited to provide volunteers to act as waiters. (CA to discuss with President of BioSoc)
    • A powerpoint presentation of alumni and School events that is set to music would play at the event. Those depicted would include as many of the participants as possible. (WA to prepare display, CG and CA to provide photos to WA)
    • A request will go out with invitations for the event to provide scanned photos of alumni and their activities.
    • All recent graduates would be invited to this function (SN)
    • Considerable discussion went into the theme slogan for the event, based on the success of "reunite with the herd" from last year. Various suggestions around the theme of herds and swarms were debated. A favoured slogan was "Spring time is swarm time for biology alumni - buzz in". (CA to discuss theme with Science Faculty marketing team)
    • Once a theme has been developed, the information will be provided on the School's alumni web page. (MT and CA to arrange)
    • A video of the event would be made to show at later alumni events, on the website and for marketing purposes. (WA to arrange video)
    • A preliminary list of organisational activities was developed, and will be discussed at a future meeting. They are: 1. promotion (CA), 2. booking the venue (CA), 3. catering, which includes food, drink, staff, glassware, 4. music, 5. name tags, 6. decorations, 7. speeches.
    • The issue of speeches was discussed. On the basis of last year's experience, it was decided to minimise speeches, and perhaps not have any. Final decision deferred.
    • MT would act as co-ordinator for this function, but will be away at times between now October, so JH will deputise in his absence. (MT and JH)
    • The event will be advertised with posters at the years Spring Back to Sydney. (CA to arrange)

    Discussion about a function at Warrah concluded that it was still too early in developing our relationship with alumni to organise a function at Warrah, but that it should be firmly on the agenda for the future. It was also considered an excellent venue for smaller, more focussed reunions of alumni groups.

  4. Alumni Chapter: It was decided to work towards one day formalising a Biology Alumni Chapter. The proforma for a constitution that was circulated last year was discussed, and it was decided to develop a formal objectives section, which could be placed on our website and used in promotion of this year's event, even in the absence of a formal Chapter. (WA to draft objectives for discussion at a future meeting)

  5. Reunions: It was noted that support from the University's Alumni Office extends to include reunions for specific groups of alumni (e.g., a year cohort). Information about the support will be added to the School alumni web page.

    It was decided that development of an e-mail or telephone tree might be an efficient way to get "personal" messages out to a large number of alumni. We need to identify active individuals who are prepared to contact about 10 of their alumni friends to notify them of events and activities. Those present would each develop a list of 10 contacts in the first instance. (Everyone).

  6. Time of Steering Committee meetings: The timing of Steering Committee meetings was discussed because of a request by LB that they are held on a Monday or Friday to allow her attendance. We decided that 5.00 pm was a good time, and that Mondays are suitable. It was also mentioned that they could be held on Tuesday's, immediately before the meeting of the Royal Zoological Society, which meets in the Heydon-Laurence Building. That way, we may engage more alumni. It was recognised that there would be no time that would be best for everyone, so it was decided to vary the day of the meeting to allow everyone to be able attend at some time.

  7. Other business: There being no other business, the meeting closed at 6.30 p.m.