Prof. Hudu Ayuba Abdullahi, is Director, Institute for Development Research and Training (IDR&T). Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. In this interview, he speaks on the formative years of the Directorate of University Advancement and sundry issues.
You took part in the initial efforts to establish the Directorate of University Advancement. Can you take us down memory lane on the emergence and purpose of the Directorate?
The Directorate of University Advancement, Ahmadu Bello University was established in 2004 along with those of the universities of Ibadan, Port Harcourt and Ile-Ife, funded by Carnergie Foundation in collaboration with McArthur Foundation. It was established to help ABU raise funds from its Alumni as is the practice of renowned universities in the USA
and Europe; and such activity has been their major source of funding over the years. This was inspired by the large number of graduates ABU had produced amounting to over 500,000 at the time. Carnergie also created an office in the U.S to raise funds for these four Universities.
Before the establishment of the Directorate, I went for a three months training in America where I visited the Alumni offices of 12 different Universities to understudy them.
I discovered there that the job of the Advancement office/Alumni office is to focus on the improvement of the university, primarily involved in fundraising activities. The Directorate is being headed by a Vice President (Deputy Vice Chancellor) Advancement with the Vice Chancellor as the chief fundraiser.
What should be the functions of an Alumni Association?
An Alumni Association is an association of former students of an institution being headed by a President, who is normally a prominent graduate of the University who could be drawn from either the public or private sector.
The purpose of the association is to support the institution’s goals by facilitating the mobilization of other alumni. Their function is being coordinated by the University advancement.
In the U.S, universities get the bulk of the
money from their Alumni. For instance, the University of Columbia has over five hundred billion dollars raised from their Alumni which they invested and used to run the University and no longer collect tuition from their students.
“ Unlike the practice in the
U.S and European
Universities, the ABU
Alumni association seems
to function as a body
independent of the
University itself. The
Alumni Association has an
office and staff, instead of
being coordinated by the
through the Alumni Desk
Officer. The operations of
the association can be
seen as a conceptional
Is the office of president of the alumni association by elections or appointment?
From the practice in the U.S, the President of Alumni association is appointed by the Vice Chancellor and endorsed by the Senate of the University. The Vice-Chancellor gets an acceptance from the appointee.
The prominence and credibility of the President of the association determines the support he is able to mobilize from the Alumni and even non-Alumni during fund raising activities for the University.
His major function is the mobilization of the Alumni to generously donate to the University during such fundraising events.
What is the expected relationship between the Directorate of University Advancement and the Alumni?
The Directorate of University Advancement is responsible for fundraising through marketing communication, getting in touch with their Alumni. They are also responsible for commercializing their product i.e. the students graduating from the university. Now the Alumni comes in to facilitate the work of the advancement office.
For instance, when the Advancement office organises fundraising activities like Presidential dinners, the Alumni facilitates such activities by mobilizing their members to attend and donate towards any noble cause of the University.
The advancement office coordinates the function of the Alumni association through an Alumni (Desk) Officer who is a University staff. By so doing, the Alumni association does not need an office or staff.
What is your assessment of the ABU Alumni Association?
Unlike the practice in the U.S and European Universities, the ABU Alumni association seems to function as a body independent of
the University itself. The Alumni Association has an office and staff, instead of being coordinated by the University Advancement through the Alumni Desk Officer.
The operations of the association can be seen as a conceptional problem. A
few years after the establishment of the university advancement, the University took the initiative to bring in the Alumni association because of the trend of raising funds through the Alumni at the time.
The pioneer ABU Alumni President was not given a clear mandate which gave room for the present independent status of the association.
In your own view, what measures should be put in place to improve the relationship between the University Advancement and the Alumni to make them both function better?
To start with, the position of the President of the University Alumni should be by appointment as is the practice in the U.S. At the stage where the appointed President accepts the appointment, he should be given a clear mandate.
The Alumni President should stick to the responsibility of facilitating the activities of the University Advancement and mobilizing the Alumni and other dignitaries to support the University’s goals. There is need for a cordial relationship between the association and the advancement to foster the goals of the University.
The University Advancement should be alive to its responsibility and take charge of all fundraising activities of the University.
The 12 Universities I visited had what they call a ‘cultivation room’ in the advancement office where students go to from 6pm to 8pm daily to reach out to the
University’s alumni through phone calls to intimate them on fundraising activities and also keep them abreast of ongoing researches in the university.
By implementing such practices, the advancement office will be able to market its researches and attract funds.
There is need for a cordial relationship between the association and the advancement to foster the goals of the University. The University Advancement should be alive to its responsibility and take charge of all fundraising activities of the University
Credit to Abu.edu.ng