Wire, Vol. 10, No. 3 - Fall 1996

A closer look at alumni opinions

As a follow-up to the telephone survey conducted in 1995 by the Gallup organization, written questionnaires were sent to alumni who indicated their willingness to participate in further polling. The 186 responses shed much light on perceptions of the Alumni Association and participation in programs and activities.

Geographic distance was the reason most frequently given for not participating in Reunion and other alumni programs. Older alums are more likely to attend Reunions, and younger alumni more likely to attend Homecoming. "An opportunity to gather with classmates" and "to see friends" are key reasons for returning to WPI. More than a third of those polled said they planned to attend an alumni event within the next 12 months.

The survey group was 80 percent male and 20 percent female. The majority (80 percent) are married, and the married couples have an average of 2.43 children.

Class agents back by popular demand

Heeding a strong call from the Alumni Fund Board and from individual alumni, the Annual Giving Office is reinstating the Class Agent Program, dormant the last several years. Volunteers are being chosen to serve as head agents, who will in turn assist in the identification of class agents. Both head agents and class agents will be calling classmates to request donations to the Alumni Fund.

Data from the 1995 Gallop survey indicates that alumni prefer to be called by fellow alumni, says Alumni Fund Director Lisa Maizite. "Nothing beats a classmate talking with a classmate," she says. Maizite has high hopes that the class agents can boost the fund's participation rate (the percentage of alumni who contribute), which began to decline during the late 1980s when the program was disbanded.

Recruiting approximately 1,000 agents will be a gradual process, says Maizite. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact her through the Annual Giving Office.


Anniversary Gifts and committee chairs from the classes of 1956 and 1946 were misidentified in a story on Reunion '96 in the Summer 1996 WPI Wire. The correct information follows.

The Class of 1956 presented WPI's first $1 million Anniversary Gift at Reunion '96. Chaired by Harry Tenney, the 40th Anniversary Gift Committee raised $690,000 in individual giving contributions which, boosted by corporate matching funds and an astonishing matching gift from an anonymous class member, brought the total to $1,420,748.

The record-setting gift was immediately exceeded by the 50th Anniversary Gift from members of the Class of 1946, who raised $1,422,980 under the capable leadership of August Kellerman. The class and its chair, Tom Zajac, received kudos for rounding up almost one-third of the class for their 50th Reunion - quite a feat for a group that was hurried through WPI under the accelerated Navy V-12 program, graduating in four separate segments. Special honors went to class member John Lott Brown, who was presented with the William R. Grogan Award for his service as interim president during the 1994-95 academic year.

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