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Alumni Association issues new policy, all grads now members

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Chris Richards/University of Arizona Alumni Association | The Daily Wildcat

 Beginning July 1, all University of Arizona graduates are general members of the UA Alumni Association. With the change, there are now 290,000 world-wide members of the UAAA. 

The University of Arizona Alumni Association expanded its membership base recently without even holding an extra graduation ceremony.

On July 1, the association issued a press release announcing its decision to make all UA graduates eligible for general membership. Previously, membership had been limited to those willing to contribute monetarily to the association.

According to Melinda Burke, president of the UA Alumni Association, the change was in response to what other peer institutions have done with their alumni associations. However, Burke said the change is all in the name of being more welcoming.

“There have been examples of alumni associations who have changed their model in order to do two things: be more inclusive and by opening membership to all alums,” Burke said. “We can truly embrace the idea that we are Wildcats for life.”

The addition of all graduates as general members raises membership in the association to an estimated 290,000 members world-wide, according to Burke. That’s a significant jump from nearly 15,000 members before the change.

Like American Express before it, membership in UAAA has its privileges, according to Burke. 

“Throughout the institution, we have embraced the idea that we want to have givers instead of joiners,” Burke said, noting that discounts will be available to alumni from various retail stores and services, such as 1-800-Flowers. The change in membership should also help with using those benefits, Burke said.

“They were, quite frankly, not very well utilized,” she said.

Graduates who become sustaining members are also eligible for benefits and discounts, in addition to knowing their contribution, or “gift,” is going towards programs UAAA supports, Burke said.

“We are trying to generate programming and benefits that benefit everybody,” Burke said. “So for example, we have two years into this career lab, the alumni career lab. And we have webinars, we have resources for young alums for resume development and interview prep.”

According to the press release, alumni who graduated five years ago or sooner are subject to a $15 renewal fee. Those who graduated longer than five years ago are subject to a $50 renewal fee. All membership contributions are tax-deductible, according to the press release. 

Sustaining members also receive a decal, mailing labels and three issues of Arizona Alumni Magazine a year on top of the discounts and at UA arts and sporting events, according to UAAA’s website. 

For UAAA, all contributions and gifts are turned into funds to help either the UA itself, or packaged into scholarships and leadership programs for current students.

Alumni who are already sustaining members will not have their membership changed, according to the press release. 


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