Chuck Swanekamp at World Veterans Athletic Championships at UB in 1995.
FOR ME, A 5K–ROAD RACE is the equivalent of running half the distance to the moon. Nonetheless, from time to time I enjoy a race, and am always eager to compare my results with the overall pack and those in my age group. Though usually a humbling experience, for me it’s still important to know how I measure up to my peers.
And so it is among major U.S. universities. Annual rankings by major news publications have become an increas-ingly hot issue not only within academia, but also among the thousands of students and their families searching for the right school. You can love them or hate them, but you can’t ignore them. Indeed, rankings have a major influence on an institution’s reputation.
Objective measures that factor in a school’s ranking include alumni giving, high school class placement, SAT/ACT test scores, starting salaries and job placement. I’m sure you can discern your role in the alumni giving measure. While your first reaction may be to dismiss it out of hand, I want to assure you that it’s the number of gifts that count, not the dollar amount. Routinely including UB in your annual charitable giving—no matter how much or how little—helps im-prove the university’s ranking considerably in this respect.
You can also influence high school rank and SAT/ACT measures by becoming a talent scout, or what the university calls “Alumni Ambassadors.” These ambassadors help recruit the best and brightest to UB by visiting high schools, attending college fairs or speaking with prospective students one-on-one. As an alumnus, your unique and personal perspective can make you one of UB’s greatest recruitment resources.
How can you affect our standing when it comes to starting salary and job placements? Try creating a culture that treats new alumni like family. Many students choose a school based on its reputation for postgraduation employment opportunities. Try adopting a pro-UB point of view in your hiring practices: Interview, hire and network with UB grads. You won’t be disappointed in the candidate pool.
In addition to these objective measures, consider the subjective components of these influential rankings. Don’t be afraid to brag! Express your pride in UB and tell others how well UB served you as a student. Spread the word about the university’s distinction and striving for excellence. And watch our rankings rise in the process.
If you have any other suggestions on how we as alumni can help the university ascend the rankings ladder (or have suggestions how I can improve my mediocre 5K–road race times), feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Swanekamp, MBA ’80 & JD ’79
President, UB Alumni Association