UAlbany Alumni Association Receives Insight Into Diversity Award for Inclusive Excellence

Three men in black and gold Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity jackets smile and flash shaka signs in front of a large inflated purple and gold UAlbany arch.
Alumni from the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity pose for a portrait at UAlbany Homecoming in 2021. (Photo by Brian Busher)

By Bethany Bump

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 9, 2024) — The University at Albany Alumni Association (UAAA) has received a 2024 Alumni Association Inclusive Excellence Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

The award recognizes alumni associations that display an outstanding commitment to encouraging a sense of belonging, connection and community for all of their alumni, regardless of racial or ethnic background, sexual or gender identity, religion, socioeconomic status, worldview and more. The UAAA is one of 32 institutions to receive an award and will be featured in the June 2024 issue of Insight Into Diversity magazine.

“The UAlbany Alumni Association team of alumni board members and staff continuously strive to increase the diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging of all our alumni,” said UAAA Executive Director Lee Serravillo. “We know that much more work must be done, but having Insight into Diversity recognize our efforts reaffirms for us that we are on the right path.”

To be considered, candidates had to submit an application explaining how they communicate their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to alumni; efforts they’ve taken to recruit, retain and advance a diverse alumni association office staff; and any unique programs they offer that help diverse alumni feel connected to their alma mater.

“It is profoundly gratifying to be recognized with the 2024 Alumni Association Inclusive Excellence Award from Insight into Diversity magazine,” said Samuel Caldwell, chief diversity officer and vice president for inclusive excellence and equity at UAlbany. “This recognition affirms our dedication to fostering a community marked by commitment to inclusion and equity, where the diversity of identities and perspectives of our alumni are acknowledged and celebrated. This award is a testament to the collective efforts of our faculty, staff, students and alumni who work tirelessly to cultivate a culture of belonging for the Great Danes community, even after they transition from students to alumni.” 

The UAAA, which formed in 1849 and serves more than 200,000 alumni from over 115 countries, has taken a number of steps over the years to promote inclusion and a sense of belonging among alumni.

The association supports a wide range of alumni constituent (or affinity) groups — which are typically formed around identities, professional and academic affiliation, and co-curricular activities — by offering services such as reunion assistance to those who wish to gather. The association also provides career and professional development opportunities to alumni through the UAlbany Career Advisory Network (UCAN), and hosts events throughout the year that focus specifically on DEI and belonging led by experts in the field.

After the George Floyd protests of 2020, the UAAA board of directors created the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Belonging Committee composed of alumni and UAAA staff to provide guidance to the board on programming, messaging, recruitment and strategic planning. This has led to changes in policy at the UAAA board level, increased professional development and training for board members and staff, and fueled more deliberate programming related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

The association also provides giving and engagement opportunities that promote DEI. A matching gift incentive during its award-winning March Matchness campaign, for example, helped raise funds for the Juneteenth Scholarship, which provides vital support to UAlbany students while promoting values of diversity and inclusion on campus.

In 2021, the UAAA led a successful campaign to increase engagement at Homecoming among alumni from historically minoritized communities.

The association created customized invitations for traditionally underrepresented groups and incentivized affinity group attendance by underwriting group package pricing to eliminate cost as a barrier to participation. It also engaged alumni from the Divine Nine, a collaborative of historically African-American sororities and fraternities, to assist in recruiting fellow alumni to attend and promote Homecoming. The result was a 52 percent increase in alumni participation over previous years, with 39 percent of total attendees participating through affinity group package registration and 20 percent of alumni attendees hailing from underrepresented minority groups.

“We know that alumni associations are not always recognized for their dedication to diversity, inclusion, and belonging,” said Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of Insight Into Diversity magazine. “We are proud to honor these college and university alumni associations as role models for other institutions of higher education.”

For more information about the 2024 Alumni Association Inclusive Excellence Award, visit