Young Alumni Trustee Program Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

At Dickinson College, the Board of Trustees is a group of alumni who make administrative decisions regarding the college. Dickinson’s Board of Trustees, however, has a unique opportunity for its most recent alumni through the Young Alumni Trustee (YAT) program. 

The current trustees are Ian Genao ‘20 and Sara Nash ‘19. A Young Alumni Trustee serves for a period of two years. Each year, as one trustee ends their term with the board, another graduating senior is selected, so there are always two Young Alumni Trustees on the board;one from the most recent graduating class and the other from the year prior.  

In order to become a trustee, students must go through an application process and display exemplary qualities that would make them a strong addition to the Board of Trustees. To apply, they must complete an online application, submit two letters of recommendation, and interview with board members who will then select just one student. 

When asked what the selection committee looks for in a trustee, Jen Love, assistant chief of staff to President Ensign and assistant secretary of the college, said, “It would be very nice for me to tell you that there is this very algorithmic formula. All of them share a strong passion for the college, they are all engaged and intellectually curious.” Further, she said, “It manifests itself in various activities and events around school. We want someone that is going to be confident in sharing their perspectives and think strategically.” 

The YAT program was formed in 2011 as a way for students to provide a unique voice in the college’s decision-making process and to help the board forge a meaningful relationship with the student body. 

Trustee Michael Bloom is currently the chair of the committee on governance, which coordinates the YAT program. When asked how having the perspectives of students impacted the board’s decisions, Bloom highlighted the unique perspective the young alumni bring to the board., 

“[T]hey added a lot of hands-on knowledge about student life, they know about the strengths and weakness[es[ and they know about a whole variety of students’ issues” Bloom said. “They hit the ground running and asked a lot of challenging questions about academic programs, finances, new projects, prioritizing facilities. It carries a lot of weight because the Young Alumni Trustees are really thoughtful, it was value added to the n-th degree.” 

 Helping trustees with a new student perspective, the Young Alumni Trustee program has allowed students to gain firsthand experience and insight into how decisions are made at Dickinson and how students are affected by them. 

When asked how her experience on the board has been, Savanna Riley ‘17 said, “I loved my two years on the board. Seeing as I was heavily involved in Student Senate throughout my college tenure, I was able to be in the trenches for four years, feeling intimately how students were affected by decisions.”

Riley added, “Being on the board only added value and additional perspective – it showed me even more about how things work and allowed me to come away with an even greater appreciation for my alma mater. “ 

Young Alumni Trustees are also able to forge lasting relationships with Dickinson Alumni.

“I appreciated getting to know board members, understanding how they come to the table, and seeing in action what it means for another group to love Dickinson and act in its’ best interest,” said Riley. “I would also say the board is a fun group and I enjoyed the social aspects immensely.”

Those interested in applying for the Young Alumni Trustee position should reach out to Jen Love at [email protected].