Board gets overview 

Advancement and Alumni Relations office improving contact with alumni

Emphasizing that the work of the office is guided by institutional priorities, particularly those set out in the strategic framework adopted last year, VP Advancement & Alumni Relations Kathy Assayag provided the Board of Governors with an overview of the various facets of her office at their March 18 meeting.

The presentation came as Assayag and her team work with outside campaign consultants to evaluate the work accomplished to date to prepare the upcoming comprehensive campaign and to establish a launch date and target goal. Assayag said that the campaign leadership has been identified, as well as high-profile honorary co-chairs and close to 140 volunteers.

“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes to prepare for the upcoming campaign,” said Assayag. “We have had excellent results to date, surpassed 58% of the goal that we set, and we are preparing to launch the campaign in the months to come. This is going to be a very exciting period for Concordia and the funds that we raise will allow Concordia to realize many of its dreams.”

Assayag outlined some of the organizational changes that were implemented since she joined the office in 2005. One of the main adjustments was the move to a Faculty-based model where members of the Advancement team work directly in the Faculties. This is instrumental in identifying Faculty priorities, critical needs and ensuring that fundraisers are well versed in our areas of excellence. In addition, the office wanted to encourage development staff to work closely with our Deans, Associate Deans and faculty members. The other advancement and alumni activities remain in the central office, including prospect research (identifying potential donors), the annual fund, planned giving, special initiatives and events.

Assayag emphasized that advancement and alumni relations is more than fundraising. Alumni are involved in a plethora of activities including mentoring current students, helping in their skill development and career path and serving as ambassadors for Concordia, both locally and internationally. Alumni can also help support students financially through the adopt-a student program which has provided financial support for 627 students since its inception in 2006.

With more than 160 000 alumni worldwide, keeping in touch with them is a challenge. Five years ago, the office had coordinates for only 58% of alumni; now 72% can be reached. This is important in communicating the more than 120 alumni events and activities carried out every year. There are now eleven geographic alumni chapters; Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tri-State, Boston/New England, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa. More are sure to follow with events already scheduled in Dubai, Jordan, London and Texas.

In terms of internal support of the university, Concordia’s participation rate for annual giving was 37% — a figure that can be improved. Ongoing solicitation to alumni and parents is carried out through the call center and mail. More than 700 parents contributed to the university this year, some with multiple gifts.

A series of yearly fundraising events has been particularly productive. For example, the annual Golf Classic has raised more than $1.5 million over the years and the Hitting the High Notes event has netted $1.1 million to support PhD students in Fine Arts. Through Planned Giving, many alumni have planned to leave a lasting legacy for Concordia.

The university has been very successful in securing major gifts from both individuals and the business, technology and arts communities. Some of these have been targeted to specific Faculties or projects while others have supported university-wide initiatives.

“The second half of the campaign always proves to be the most challenging. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but under the leadership of Dr. Judith Woodsworth, the support of the Board and our Campaign Chairs, we can achieve our goals of offering even more to our students, creating more competitive fellowships for graduate students, attracting and retaining top talent, and so much more. That’s the game plan,” concluded Assayag.


Concordia University