Alumni Reach Historic Milestone

A historic milestone was set by the alumni community.

On August 31, 2022, Columbia exceeded a historic milestone—508 alumni gifts, a new high bar for alumni giving. This incredible impact raised more than $450,000 for 38 different Columbia funds and projects. 

It all started in November 2021 with the launch of the new Alumni Network. The network itself was a long time coming, finally giving alumni a place to connect with each other and back to the college. To get the word out, the National Alumni Board came together with a challenge: when 100 alumni join the network at the Innovator level with a gift of $25 or more, an additional gift of $5,000 from board members would unlock and directly support student scholarships, internships, and special programs at Columbia. 

The first challenge was an overwhelming success with 186 alumni raising more than $36,000. Alumni shared their excitement about the benefits of the network, including the inaugural #ColumAlum sticker designed by alum Elsa Brydalski ’21. 

The excitement was palpable with alumni sharing their stories of inspiration: 

"I hope my contributions to Columbia opens doors and possibilities for students today, and into the future." - Scot O’Hara MFA ’95 and a National Alumni Board member.  

 “You can always do a little bit. When a lot of people do a little bit, it can do a lot.” - Rosalind Baker ’83 

 “I want to give other young people, especially those students from diverse backgrounds, the opportunity to succeed.” - Kimberly Wilson ’01  

And as the year progressed, outreach and awareness of the initiative came from across the college. Conversations with deans and department chairs focused on ways departments could help support these efforts. Campus partners, faculty, and staff promoted it through their social networks. Letters and emails were sent and phone calls were made.   

As the deadline approached, another challenge came into focus, this time with an alum favorite…Columbia swag. Alumni donors not only got a membership to the Alumni Network, some also received limited-edition alumni Manifest t-shirts and others got this year’s coveted Admissions pizza socks.     

In the end, the college exceed its high point of alumni giving, which was 432 in 2013, by 76 additional donors. And the impact that’s been made on the next generation of students is palpable.  

"It is not an exaggeration that if It were not for scholarships, I could have been forced to drop out. I'm an adult student and I support myself. If there was no help for people like me, I could have completely lost access to higher education." - Jorden, Advertising  

"It honestly feels like I have been given wings. This type of assistance truly goes a long way because you are helping people with similar stories such as mine pursue higher education." - Kimberly, Creative Writing 

“I was able to take enough time off from work to dedicate time to assistant directing a short film alongside my 18 credit hours and still maintain a reasonable financial situation surrounding my living situation off campus. I have scholarships to thank entirely." - Aaron, Film and Television 

“It's the support of alumni that gives the next generation a chance to find their unique and creative pathway as they transition to alums,” said Dirk Matthews, senior director of alumni relations. “We’re excited to see what the next 12 months bring for alumni engagement.” 

If you’re an alum and you haven’t joined the network, it’s not too late: Make your impact today.