Letter from the Alumni Director

Connecting with Your Alma Mater


Culture eats strategy for lunch.

Elizabeth Saxman Underwood '01That’s a phrase we hear frequently in our work in higher education, and it’s one that we’ve given some thought to in the last few months as we grow our alumni programs here at UNC Asheville. It’s also given us a new idea—fewer alumni lunches and more meaningful connections. We are going to embrace our culture as one of the top universities for making an impact (thank you to The Princeton Review!) and make sure our efforts to reach out to you are as meaningful as the work that you do.

As we grow our alumni programs, I have prioritized building our National Alumni Council. As we enrich that council, we are being mindful of the UNC Asheville culture, examining models from across campus, including the Foundation Board and the Board of Trustees, as well as industry standards and best practices. I believe we need to also think outside the box and discern what is best for UNC Asheville, which may be a piece or a modification of a best practice. Also, if you’ve seen one board model… you’ve seen one board model; there are infinite ways to structure a board.

Our National Alumni Council is chaired by alumnus Mike Roach. The council meets three times a year, and this past September the council agreed to formalize our nominating process. Under Mike’s leadership we established our first committee and met via video conference over a dozen times. At our winter meeting this February, the committee presented two action items for vote. The first was an official “Charter” to formalize the committee. The language reflects the Charter of the Board of Trustees and by-laws of the Foundation Board with similar standards to create is congruence. Our process as well as the nomination form can be found on our website, and any alumni can nominate themselves or be nominated throughout the year. Our subsequent vote was the unanimous passage of the slate, which consists of seven new alumni members for the council. Get to know them on our website, alumni.unca.edu/NAC.

The National Alumni Council is our leadership pipeline into the university. We are eager to continue to work with and better define the Student Alumni Association, to extend that leadership opportunity to our students even before they join the ranks of our esteemed alumni. Of course, if you still want to get together for lunch, just let us know. We are always happy to hear from our alumni.


Elizabeth Saxman Underwood ’01, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Alumni Relations // eunderw1@unca.edu // 828.232.5125