OXFORD UNIVERSITY ALUMNI BOARD

The purpose of the Board is to advise the Alumni Office on strategy with a goal of increasing and enhancing engagement amongst its global community of alumni

The Board consists of 20 volunteer members:

  • the Chair who is appointed by the Chancellor

  • two internals appointed by Council

  • 14 members of the alumni community

  • three co-opted members

Terms are typically three years with an option to renew for another three. Co-opted members serve for one year with the option to renew.

Board meetings take place three times a year: September and May in Oxford, and January in London.

If you’d like to contact the Board, please address your email to: alumniboard@alumni.ox.ac.uk

Board Members

 

James Dancer

Mr James Dancer (Chair), Keble College

James is a former diplomat, strategy consultant and corporate financier. He read PPE at Keble in the mid-1990s, where he was also a keen rower. Since Oxford, he has advised on strategic challenges with McKinsey & Co, the Foreign Office, UBS Warburg, as chief executive of a partnership of former ambassadors, and now with Hakluyt & Company. Having lived in London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and Belgrade, he and his family are now happily settled in Berkshire.

 

Judith Tew

Ms Judith Tew (Deputy Chair), Lady Margaret Hall

Judith graduated in Mathematics from LMH and has broad financial and commercial experience from a variety of leadership roles.

She qualified as an accountant with Price Waterhouse (now PwC) in London and subsequently pursued a career in Finance with HSBC UK where she was Group Chief Accountant and subsequently Group Financial Controller. She spent over 15 years working in the insurance industry, working at AXA PPP healthcare where she was Risk and Compliance Director and subsequently Strategic Development and Change Director, responsible for leading change programmes and corporate acquisition and disposal activity. In addition to her commercial roles at AXA, Judith was mentor to the graduate scheme.

Judith main interests are in music, theatre and education. She is a governor of a Kent grammar school, director of a Kent theatre and trustee of an Oxfordshire opera festival.

 

Maureen O'Neill

Ms Maureen O'Neill (Treasurer),  Director of Development, Faculty of Law

In 2004, Maureen became Oxford’s first departmental fundraiser as the Director of Development for the Law Faculty.  Prior to this, Maureen held a variety of positions including a lecturer in humanities at Franklin Institute of Boston, a legal researcher on a state-wide legal needs study for the State of Massachusetts, and Director of Development at both Earthwatch , an organisation that funds scientific field research throughout the world, and The Royal Institution of Great Britain.

 

Rt Hon Baroness Margaret Jay of Paddington (Mrs Margaret Adler) - photograph copyright House of Lords

Rt Hon Baroness Margaret Jay of Paddington (Mrs Margaret Adler), Somerville College

Baroness Jay of Paddington is a Life Peer and Labour Party politician. Baroness Jay was also formerly a BBC television producer and presenter. Baroness Jay, the daughter of former British Prime Minister James Callaghan, was appointed a Life Peer in 1992 and acted as an opposition whip in the House of Lords. After Labour’s 1997 election victory she became a Minister in the Department of Health and, in 1998, Minister for Women and Leader of the House of Lords with a seat in the Cabinet. Baroness Jay remains active in the House of Lords as a Privy Counsellor and has chaired the Select Committee on the Constitution. Outside parliament she is a Trustee of the Europaeum Group and a Senior Fellow of Somerville College.

 

Jonathan Black

Mr Jonathan Black, Director of Careers Service

Jonathan has been director of the University of Oxford Careers Service since 2008. Prior to this he held a number of senior commercial roles at Booz & Co, Harcourt Brace, and Times Mirror and was co-founder of an internet start-up successfully sold to Elsevier. Jonathan is a Professorial Fellow and Tutor for Welfare at New College, is Chair of Oxford Hub, and writes the regular ‘Dear Jonathan’ careers column in the Financial Times.

 

Dr Lennart Brand

Dr Lennart Brand, St John’s College

Lennart is Managing Director of the Leadership Excellence Institute of Zeppelin University, Lake Constance. Before his current position, he held a variety of managerial responsibilities in academia, focusing on technology transfer, entrepreneurship, development, and international strategy. Lennart started his career in the industry before taking up his D.Phil. in Modern Languages at Oxford (St. John’s) in 2004. He lives in Überlingen, Germany, with his wife and daughter.

 

Chris Brodie

Mr Christian Brodie, Magdalen College

Following an executive career in corporate finance law and banking, Christian Brodie took on a number of Chair roles in Higher Education, including the University of Sussex, the Council of UCAS and the Student Loans Company. He is now Chair of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership which is involved in regional development and Chair (Elect) of the Wates Foundation, his family’s charitable foundation, which has donated to charitable causes mainly in London and the South.

 

Dr Nick Brown - photograph by Phil Sayer

Dr Nick Brown, Linacre College

Nick Brown is Principal of Linacre College where he was also a doctoral student from 1986 to 1990. He is a plant ecologist with over 20 years’ experience in research, teaching and consultancy. He is Chairman of Trustees for the Tertiary Education Trust for Africa, and also chairs Oxford University’s Buildings and Estates Committee responsible for the construction, management and maintenance of university buildings and land.

 

Magdalena Ewen (Kellogg)

Mrs Magdalena Ewen, Kellogg College

Magdalena is a passionate linguist who qualified as a teacher after completing her PGCE in 2014 (Kellogg College).

She runs her own tutoring business and works full-time as a private tutor teaching French and German to students all around the world.

Magdalena is involved in the national tutoring sector, having acted as a Director for the National Tutors’ Association (TTA) as well as a TTA Regional Hub Leader for Central London.

Magdalena is the current President of Oxford10, the official society for young and recent alumni of Oxford University. Throughout the school year, she volunteers as a career coach for the charity My Big Career.

 

Luis Gomes

Mr Luís Gomes, St Anne’s College

Luís’ career in marketing spans London and Sydney and includes roles at Facebook, Essence (WPP), and Universal Music. In London he works with clients including Google, advising on their global marketing and paid media strategies. In Sydney, he oversaw recording artists’ marketing campaigns and led partnerships between Universal Music, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney Opera House, and leading Australian media outlets. Luís brings expertise in brand marketing, digital advertising, and consultancy to the board’s mission.

 

Laura Hill

Miss Laura Hill, St Catherine’s College

Laura read History of Art at St Catherine's before establishing a career in External Affairs and Alumni Relations. She has worked in the private and higher education sectors, creating strategies and delivering campaigns to engage alumni across the globe.

She has previously acted as Regional Secretary for the Thames Valley Region of the Institute for Development Professionals in Education, and presented at the Chartered Association of Business Schools Professional Managers’ Annual Conference.

 

Marco Janezic

Mr Marco Janezic, St Edmund Hall

Marco Janezic is Founding Partner of BlueRibbon Partners, a company builder focusing on the (digital) life sciences.  He is a multiple entrepreneur, investor and advisor with a track record in tech, digital media and impact investing. Prior to this he worked in investment banking and management consulting.  He holds an M.A. in Physics and Philosophy of the University of Oxford. In his spare time he enjoys life music, reading and running the family vineyard.

 

Vanshica Kant

Ms Vanshica Kant, St Catherine's College

Vanshica Kant is a Schwarzman Scholar on Leadership & Global Affairs at Tsinghua University, China. A Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, she has worked with the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in India. She holds a Bachelor's in History Honours from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi, and read a Master's in Global and Imperial History from the University of Oxford on full scholarship. Her area of specialization lies at the intersection of history, society, and technology. 

Vanshica serves in advisory positions across multiple organizations, including the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Covid Steering Committee, the Confederation of Indian Industries’ Young Indians Leadership Council, and the Oxford & Cambridge Society of India Executive Committee.

She has been selected to represent her country at several global congregations including Summer Davos in Dalian, China and the G8 & G20 Youth Summit in Washington DC, USA. Vanshica writes for various platforms including the World Economic Forum Agenda Blog and Financial Express. She enjoys all things culinary, interacting with individuals over great conversation and discovering lesser explored lands.

 

Emma Ahmad Neale

Ms Emma Neale, Lady Margaret Hall

Emma now works in the investments team at innovations charity, Nesta. Emma has a background in the research and evaluation of social programmes, for example, looking at children’s and youth services; the financial inclusion, employment and social integration of those hardest to reach. She began her career at the University of East London and went on to work for a range of charities and public sector organisations. She studied PPE at Lady Margaret Hall from 1994.

 

Kwabena Osei Boateng

Mr Kwabena Osei-Boateng, Mansfield College

Kwabs is an experienced investment banker and management consultant. He is the Executive Vice Chairman of IC Group, a company with significant holdings in investment banking and asset management in Africa. He also serves as the Managing Director of IC Securities and the Chairman of IC Asset Managers. He previously worked at JP Morgan, LongAcre Partners and McKinsey. He holds a MEng in Engineering, Economics, and Management from Oxford and an MBA from Harvard. Kwabena is an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Fellow.

 

Corinne Pluchino

Ms Corinne Pluchino, Christ Church

Corinne read PPE at Christ Church before beginning her career in communications, campaigning and income generation and more recently corporate strategy and organisational change. She has worked in the commercial and charitable sectors and is currently Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT). Corinne has a lifelong love of the natural world and has an MSc in Environment, Politics and Society from UCL. She is a Trustee of CPRE, the countryside charity, and a former Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks.

 

Amanda Pullinger

Ms Amanda Pullinger,  Brasenose College

Amanda is the CEO of 100WF, an organization of 17,000 members in 26 locations that is focused on empowering women in the finance industry and inspiring the next generation. She leads a staff team and oversees 500 volunteer practitioners globally. Amanda serves on the following: HALO Trust (USA) Board; American Friends of The National Portrait Gallery (London) Foundation Board; Director, Oxford University Alumni Board; President; Brasenose Society; Vice Chair, WNF; Chair and Non-Executive Director of the Board, FlyPlymouth.

 

Chantal Sathi

Ms Chantal Sathi, Wycliffe Hall

Chantal is an innovator and pioneer in the fields of international development and sport. She is currently constructing The Sports Restorative Justice Charter for the Commonwealth Games Federation in London. This charter provides solutions for future policy-making processes towards peaceful and sustainable development for the 72 member countries of the Commonwealth.

Chantal is from Toronto and her hobbies include teaching classical piano; being a personal trainer; and flying glider planes in the French Alps.

 

Paula Skokowski

Mrs Paula Skokowski, St Edmund Hall

Paula has spent her career at the forefront of technology, building companies from zero to late-stage growth in Robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and most recently Information Security. She is currently Chief Marketing Officer for Incognia. She is an active member of the Oxford entrepreneurial community, and is co-founder and fund manager of the Oxford Angel Fund. Paula completed a B.A. Engineering at St Edmund Hall, and an MS in Robotics at U.C. Berkeley.

The Board met via Zoom and began by hearing from Pro-Vice-Chancellor David Gann who shared recent news from the University before diving into a deeper discussion about the University’s emerging development strategy with Chief Development Officer Liesl Elder. PVC Gann further elaborated on the projected themes of the development plan and explained that work was underway to identify academic champions for each. Whilst specific monetary targets have not been confirmed, it is understood that these would be large-scale projects needing transformative gifts. At the same time, Prof Gann acknowledged the importance of building support amongst the alumni community for these endeavours and hopes to increase regular giving. After a fulsome discussion, the Board heard from Dr Nick Brown about the work of Conference of Colleges and specifically, efforts to raise money for an academic futures scholarship programme to fund post-graduate studies. Board members were then divided up into smaller discussion groups to share and collect feedback on the development strategy. That feedback was then channelled back to the PVC and Liesl Elder. The Board went on to discuss ways in which the Board might better improve its visibility with alumni and with internal colleagues as well as ensuring that it’s work has impact. This led to reports from the two Working Group chairs who are addressing Alumni Engagement and Support for Alumni Networks. Both groups have provided the Alumni Office with important advice and guidance and it was agreed that the work of the groups should continue. Discussion progressed to the funds currently at the Board’s disposal and there was a unanimous call for more clarity on how the Office is funded and how the Board’s funds have been deployed to support the work of the Alumni Office. Finally, the Board saluted the departure of two highly valued Board members: Chris Lowe (Brasenose) and James Khan (Kellogg). They each brought a dedication to service and highly valued skills that added tremendously to each discussion. We are enormously grateful for their commitment to the Board, the University, and its alumni community.  

Due to Lockdown, the Board convened again via Zoom, noting with sadness the untimely passing of fellow Board member, Professor Angus Hawkins. The Chair went on to invite an update from Dr Nick Brown as a member of Conference of Colleges. He provided insights into how the colleges were coping in light of the latest Lockdown and also highlighted the University’s Environmental Sustainability Strategy that is taking shape. The Chair then welcomed David Gann CBE as the new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Development and External Affairs. Prof Gann described his focus on informing and engaging the alumni community as institutional ambassadors along with encouraging more digital outreach to keep alumni engaged. Liesl Elder, Chief Development Officer provided an update on recent fundraising successes along with plans to develop the framework for the next major fundraising effort. The Board then gathered in smaller breakout groups to further discuss what they heard and to formulate feedback for Professor Gann and Ms Elder. After reconvening and sharing their input, the Board heard a report from the Chair on recent activity by the leadership team to raise the visibility of the Board. The two Working Groups (Engagement and Alumni Networks) each provided updates on their activity and the Board went on to approve proposals for two new alumni groups, one in Equador and the other a special-interest group for PPE alumni. The Director of Alumni Relations went on to update the Board on the issue of Associate status, explaining that the proposal to raise the threshold to 12 weeks now needs to go to the Committee for Development and Alumni Relations, and ultimately Council for ratification. Finally, after receiving a report on Board funds, the meeting concluded.

The Board convened via Zoom and welcomed 4 new members, Christian Brodie, Luis Gomes, Marco Janezic and Chantal Sathi, along with the new leadership team: James Dancer (Chair), Judith Tew (Deputy Chair) and Maureen O’Neill (Treasurer). Robert Easton joined the meeting and provided an update on the impact of COVID on the University. As Dr Easton will be stepping down from his role in November, the Board offered their sincere thanks for his support and leadership. After an update from Prof Nick Brown in his capacity as member of Conference of Colleges, the Board moved into a presentation from the incoming leadership team on the proposed new strategy for the Board. The Chair offered an outline of a new mission statement, suggestions around making the Board more effective and raising its visibility as a strategic partner across the collegiate university. In particular, the leadership team identified 5 areas where the Board might focus their attention: alumni groups, alumni engagement, support for other entities across the University, and infrastructure (systems, data, etc). These were then prioritised into 2 Working Groups, Alumni Engagement and Alumni Networks. In addition, the Board agreed that the following measures would be taken to enhance its work; more frequent communication and informal meetings in-between Board meetings, clear objectives and metrics aligned both with the strategic objectives of the Alumni Office and ultimately the University. Finally, the Board reviewed two applications for official group status, one from alumni in Shenzhen and one from Guangzhou. Both were approved.

The Board meeting (hosted on Zoom) commenced with the announcement by Chairman, Nick Segal that upon his retirement, James Dancer (Keble, 1994) would be taking over as Chair and Judith Tew (LMH, 1980) as Deputy Chair as of September 2020. Nick went on to thank Helen Wright, Deputy Chair (Lincoln, 1988) and Jackie Ranawake King (St Peter’s, 1988) for their steadfast service to the Board throughout their terms. Robert Easton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Development and External Affairs provided an update on the University and specifically the impact of the COVID crisis and Dr Nick Brown provided the perspective from Conference of Colleges. The Board then went on to discuss the proposal to review the distinction between Alumni and Associate status. The Board agreed with the proposal to raise the threshold for Associate status from 4 days to 12 weeks as of Michaelmas Term 2021 (grandfathering in those already designated as Associates). The Director of Alumni Relations will inform those departments affected and seek further guidance on next steps. The Board went on to approve proposals for two new alumni networks: OUS Finland and the Oxford Climate Alumni Network. Finally, with regards to Board funds, the Board approved the allocation of extra funds to cover a shortfall in the Alumni Office budget due to recent budget cuts and went on to discuss more broadly how centralised services could be made available to colleges, departments and alumni networks worldwide. Judith Tew, as Chair of the Nominating Committee, reported that out of 50 applications for the 4 open seats, the Committee had narrowed the field to 18. Interviews are underway and they plan to arrive at 4 finalists in June. The meeting ended with sincere thanks to Nick Segal for his valuable leadership over the years.

The Alumni Board convened at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London. The first item for discussion focused on the threshold for receiving Associate status. The Director of Alumni Relations reported that there was an increase from departments to add new programmes to the list of those which qualify for Associate status upon completion. Further review showed that the threshold currently sat at 4 days for certain programmes. The Board agreed that in order to either endorse the current system or make a recommendation for change, further analysis was needed including benchmarking with other similar institutions. The Director of Alumni Relations will undertake this analysis and report back at the May Board meeting. The Board went on to discuss how best to embed the ‘personas’ defined in 2019 into the University’s engagement strategy. They endorsed a proposal to host an anniversary celebration of the PPE degree at the Meeting Minds event in September 2020, and received an update on the email forwarding project that is being reviewed by IT Services. The Board went on to discuss the financial challenges faced by the Alumni Office after a 12.5% budget cut was introduced for the 2020/21 budget. In conclusion, Chairman, Nick Segal announced that he and Deputy Chair, Helen Wright would be retiring from their seats at the end of Trinity Term and invited anyone interested in being considered to contact the Director of Alumni Relations.

Board members gathered in the Board Room of the Maths Institute amidst the swirl of eager children and parents attending the University’s Open Day and the start of the Meeting Minds alumni weekend. Board President Nick Segal introduced the newest member, James Khan (Kellogg, 2014), the new President of Oxford10 and an ex officio member of the Board.

As has been the case in the past Dr Robert Easton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Development and External Affairs provided an update on some of the issues that were top of mind for his Portfolio: namely, the impact of a number of recent announcements including Oxford’s place in the rankings (#1 for the fourth year in a row!), the consolidation of two new access schemes, a project to fund more accommodation for students and staff in the city and the potential impact of Brexit on the University. The Board also discussed how to support the University’s aim of growing the offering of funded internships for students as alumni might well be an important resource for this.

The focus of the meeting then shifted to a presentation by representatives from Forrester Research, a marketing consulting company appointed by the Alumni Office (with funding from the Board) to undertake a project focused on providing greater insights into behaviours that can help shape the overall alumni experience. Through a process of individual interviews and an online survey, which received over 3,000 responses from alumni across the world, they identified a series of ‘personas’ based on alumni needs, motivations and context. They walked the Board through each of these profiles, which have been built to enable a shared understanding of alumni and provide a base for future alumni engagement. Whilst these profiles are by no means exhaustive, they provide the Alumni Office with a more reliable roadmap for shaping its outreach efforts to the global community of alumni. Throughout the process of data gathering, the Forrester team was encouraged by the fact that alumni expressed their strong desire to help the University as, for example, advocates, mentors, etc. That said, it was clear they were unsure how to go about accessing those opportunities. The Alumni Office will now take the results of the Forrester project, share them with colleagues across the University and think collectively about how best to use them to inform the design of communications, events and benefit strategies.

The Board then turned its attention to how best to encourage more alumni to recognise the benefits of remaining in touch with the University. The advent of new data privacy regulations has meant that we are having to re-evaluate the integrity of our database and, in the case of a high proportion of alumni, collect more explicit consent before contacting them via email – a slow and challenging process to say the least. This effort is currently underway and we look forward to re-establishing meaningful contact with those eager to remain engaged and informed. Finally, before adjourning, the Board approved applications from two groups in the US eager to establish local alumni networks: one in Charlotte, North Carolina and the other in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Board met at St Cross College on a beautiful spring afternoon and, after approving the minutes and reviewing matters arising, got down to business.

Robert Easton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Development and External Affairs provided a brief update on recent developments including financial pressures currently being faced by the University and the announcement of two new access schemes designed to increase the percentage of applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who would not normally think to apply.

The Board then turned their attention to a presentation by Liesl Elder, Chief Development Officer for the University. She reviewed the history of the Oxford Thinking Campaign, the ratio of funds raised by colleges versus the University, comparing how Oxford performed in relation to its sister institutions in the UK and abroad and reviewing the impact of some of those contributions.

Discussion then shifted to the University’s Strategic Plan (2018-2023) and the ways in which alumni might contribute to realising some of those priorities. After a discussion about how alumni might serve as Admissions ‘ambassadors’ to encourage more talented students to apply, they turned to a general discussion around the challenges of building an engaged and dedicated alumni community, similar to the ones you see associated with American universities. The Director of Alumni Relations discussed the importance of better understanding the alumni ‘journey’ whereby the institution might create an experience or set of benefits for its alumni that would be relevant to them at specific times of their lives and in accordance with where they are in the world. This work will be discussed more fully at the September meeting.

The Treasurer presented a proposal to redirect funds that are at the Board’s disposal towards activities directly related to increasing alumni engagement. The Board agreed that these funds had the potential to have a wide and tangible impact on the alumni experience by supplementing the fairly modest budget of the Alumni Office.

And finally, reports were received from the various Working Groups: Networks, Benefits and Internships and it was agreed that these would continue and might indeed be expanded to respond to new challenges.

The Board concluded the meeting by thanking Oliver Holloway for his service as an ex officio member in light of his retirement from the presidency of Oxford10.

The Alumni Board convened at Freshfields in London for their January Meeting. After approving the Minutes from the September meeting, the Board reviewed the Matters Arising and specifically discussed progress made on a number of fronts:

Working Groups

  • Sourcing Internships for Students (Margaret Jay, Maureen O’Neill and Kwabs Osei-Boateng) Maureen O’Neill has provided introductions to a number of law firms, Margaret Jay and Kwabs OseiBoateng met with Jonathan Black and Fiona Woodhouse before the Board meeting to discuss specific areas of need and ways in which they might be able to open doors through their contacts.
  • Reviewing Alumni Benefits (Lennart Brand, Amanda Pullinger and Jackie Ranawake)
    • Working Group members took part in an initial survey of benefits currently on offer to alumni, providing valuable perspectives and feedback on their perceived value and the way in which they are presented.
  • Supporting Alumni Groups (Emma Neale, Laura Hill and Judith Tew)
    • Members of the Working Group each reached out to local groups in their areas to better understand their needs and challenges.

In the case of each Working Group, their input was greatly appreciated and these groups will continue for the time being.

The Board meeting agenda proceeded with a discussion of the University’s Strategic Plan and where, specifically, alumni might contribute. The Board agreed that alumni could offer advice, influence and support in the areas of access and outreach, sourcing more funded internships for students, supporting alumni entrepreneurs and deploying an informed alumni community as footsoldiers for the University overall. Following on from the Strategic Plan discussion, the Board heard a presentation on the University’s commitment to Admissions outreach and access by Samina Khan, the Director of Admissions.

Final topics included an update on the Alumni Journey Project (the Board endorsing further exploration with the consulting firm), a discussion of how best to direct Alumni Board funds and an overview of recent news from the University, delivered by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Dr Robert Easton.

Board Chair Nick Segal welcomed Board members to the meeting and invited the 5 new Board members in attendance to introduce themselves and provide a brief overview of their backgrounds. Nick Segal expressed the Board’s thanks for the new members’ commitment to alumni relations and excitement at their joining the Board.

The newly appointed Treasurer, James Dancer, provided an update on the OUS Funds and Christine Fairchild, Director of Alumni Relations, further explained that the distribution of student awards would be discussed at the next meeting to explore how the funds might have greater impact.

Dr Mike Glover, Director of Planning and Council Secretariat made a presentation to the Board on the University’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan and its specific priorities. Dr Glover explained the process for preparing and gathering input on the Plan through internal consultation. The Board requested and highlighted the need for earlier consultation with the Board in future so that proper consideration could be given to the alumni perspective. Dr Glover reviewed each of the Plan’s priorities and the Board noted that a number of them could be enhanced by alumni support (in particular the sourcing of paid internships for students). It was agreed that a matrix detailing each of the priorities mapped to potential alumni input would be developed and circulated so that Board members might comment and volunteer to contribute via working groups where possible. Overall, the Board felt there should be clearer calls to action for alumni to contribute to the University’s longterm health and development.

Richard Sheahan, Principal Consultant at Forrester Research was then invited to update the Board on the Alumni Journey Mapping project currently underway. Forrester has been working with the Alumni Office to train alumni volunteers to conduct phone interviews with a random selection of alumni to understand better how they perceive their relationship with the University in all its different aspects. The results of this exercise will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how alumni relate to the wider University throughout their lives: the strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for enhancements. The Board discussed concerns around the size of the sample (will it be representative), the length of time it is taking to move the project along and how the findings will be operationalised.

The Board discussed its overall remit, its current projects and how best to structure its work going forward. Members agreed that defining the alumni journey and contributing to the University’s strategic priorities would remain its main focus for now and that Board members would be given the opportunity to further contribute through defined Working Groups.

Alumni Board Chairman Nick Segal hosted the June Board meeting in the Weston Library at Oxford. Board business included a review of progress made in raising the profile of the Board amongst alumni and an update on the nominations received to fill the open seats on the Board. As of the meeting, 65 nominations had been received to fill 6 open alumni seats. Applicants hailed from North America, Asia, Africa Europe, the Middle East Australasia and, of course, the UK. The process of winnowing down the list of impressive applications will be completed over the summer with new Board members primed to join the Board at their September meeting.

The Board was joined by Samina Khan, director of Admissions and Ceri Thomas, Director of Public Affairs and Communication who presented the recently released Annual Admissions Statistical Report highlighting data on students who have applied for undergraduate courses over the last 5 years. A discussion followed on the importance of such a report in sharing accurate data on students and hopefully dispelling the myths around the University’s perceived exclusivity. Copies of the Report were distributed to alumni volunteers around the world with the aim of empowering them as advocates for Admissions outreach and access.

The meeting concluded with a heartfelt salute to those Board members who are retiring after years of service to the Board and the alumni community as a whole. The Board owes a debt of gratitude to the following for their tireless commitment and meaningful support:

  • Ms Alison Fisher
  • Mr David Lermon
  • Dr Hartmut Mayer
  • Prof Jonathan Michie (Treasurer)
  • Prof John Stein
  • Mrs Anna Thorne (ex officio)

Alumni Board Chairman Nick Segal hosted the January Board meeting at Freshfields in London. Dr Robert Easton, the recently arrived Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Development and External Affairs, provided the Board with an overview of his career trajectory along with his perceptions of the University and the Portfolio he oversees (Development, Alumni Relations, Public Affairs and International Strategy). Dr Easton was forthcoming about both the challenges and opportunities currently facing the University and the unique role that alumni can play in supporting the wider University.

Board member Jackie Ranawake (St Peter’s 1988) reported on the outcomes of a Board Working Group to look at the alumni lifecycle through the lens of some archetypal alumni profiles. The next step with the project is to expand on the exercise and in particular, identify the milestones in the lifecycle to better understand where the University might offer relevant resources, programmes and communications.

Christine Fairchild, Director of Alumni Relations reported on findings from a qualitative survey comparing Alumni Relations programmes across competitor institutions. This provided insights into how other universities (especially those in the US) structure their activities and measure their alumni engagement.

With the pending retirement of 4 Board members, the Board discussed the current mix of alumni and internals on the Board and agreed to increase the number of alumni seats. The nominations process for gathering applications went live in early April and closes in late May. Decisions will be communicated in early August.

Before adjourning, the Board discussed two applications for new alumni groups, approving the application from Syria but declining the one from Malawi as there weren’t enough alumni in the region to warrant a formal group.

Purpose: The Society’s purpose is as set out in University Regulations:

"The Oxford University Society ("the Society") shall be an organisation within the University under Council for bringing together alumni of the University and encouraging and co-ordinating their support for the collegiate University, other than that concerned with fundraising. It serves as the focus for alumni relations and activities on behalf of the University."

These orders were updated, 16 January 2018.

  1. The Oxford University Alumni Board. The composition and purpose of the Board are set out in University Regulations. The Chancellor may attend any of its meetings.
  2. Appointments to the Board. In accordance with Regulations, in addition to its powers to co-opt one member, the Board may appoint fourteen members in two categories:
    1. up to nine members of the alumni community, appointed by the Board;
    2. no fewer than five self-nominated members of the alumni community. The procedure for such appointments shall be as follows:
      1. Nominations shall be invited through the monthly electronic newsletter, the Alumni Website, via alumni groups, and through any other means deemed appropriate by the Board.
      2. Self-nominations must be seconded by someone other than the candidate. They must be submitted on an official nomination form to be downloaded from the alumni website or obtained by writing to the Director of Alumni Relations. Nominated candidates shall submit a supporting statement of no more than 200 words.
      3. The Board’s Nominations Committee shall review all nominations and make recommendations to the Board based on the nominees’ skills and levels of involvement. The Board shall then appoint the most appropriate nominees, taking account of their levels of involvement with the alumni community and the needs of the Board.
  3. Sub-Committees. The Chair may constitute sub-committees to assist in the management of Board business. Decisions by such sub committees shall be subject to ratification by the full Board.
  4. Events and Services. Events and services organised for alumni shall normally be arranged and provided by the University Alumni Office, with guidance and, where appropriate, financial support from the Board. Where possible, these shall include an annual reunion for alumni at Oxford and/or other major centres.
  5. The Alumni Group Network. The University Alumni Office authorises and supports a network of alumni groups world-wide, providing a local focus for alumni activities. These shall be deemed local representatives of the alumni community and the Board shall advise on support and encouragement for their volunteer committees.
  6. Board Business.
    1. The Board shall usually meet in January, May and September each year. The Chair may convene other meetings as required. The agenda for meetings shall be set by the Chair in consultation with the Director of Alumni Relations, the Treasurer and the Vice-Chair, having invited suggestions from other Board members.
    2. The Director of Alumni Relations will nominate a member of the Alumni Office to act as secretary to the Board and to maintain records of Board appointments.
  7. Alumni Relations Strategy. In exercising its responsibility under University Regulations to “advise the University on matters pertaining to alumni relations”, the Board shall annually invite the Director of Alumni Relations to make a presentation on alumni relations strategy and planned activities, normally at the May Board meeting. The Board shall offer comment or advice as appropriate and may on occasion report its views to the Vice-Chancellor, through the Pro-Vice-Chancellor(Development and External Affairs).
  8. Membership of the Alumni Community and Alumni status. The Board shall advise the Committee for Development and Alumni Relations on the categories of individuals who shall be treated as members of the Alumni Community, or as having Alumni versus Associate status. These categories are listed in the schedule to these Standing Orders.
  9. Financial Governance. The Board shall meet annually, normally at its January meeting, to approve accounts for the previous year and agree a budget for the use of the funds at its disposal in the forthcoming year.