A common observation about Wesleyan is that each student experiences a different Wes than the next. What is shared across all generations of Cardinals, however, is a sense of responsibility to make the world a better place.
For Trustee Nominating Committee Chair Ellen Glazerman ’84, P’26 and David Hill ’86, Chair of the Alumni Association, voting in the election for Alumni-Elected Trustees is one of the most important—and easiest ways—to help continue to make Wesleyan a special place.
Each year, Wesleyan alumni elect three of their peers to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees for a three-year term. While many schools have some Alumni-Elected Trustee representation, Wesleyan is unique in that nearly one-third of the Board is elected by the alumni body. All alumni plus members of the class of 2022 are eligible to vote. Voting will be available via a unique email link that will be sent three times in May.
In a pair of recent interviews, Glazerman and Hill reflect on the importance of the election and the impact Wesleyan has made on them personally and professionally.
What has being a Wesleyan alum meant for your life?
Ellen Glazerman: My connection to Wesleyan is about being a part of a community of really bright, inquisitive, passionate and engaged people. My Wesleyan education taught me to think creatively, question everything, work collaboratively and drive myself to learn and grow constantly. This means something different to everyone in the community but when you meet Wes alumni about and around – they connect with you. There is a shared understanding, regardless of the fact that every cohort of Wes alumni had a remarkably different experience (in part because of the context of when they were in school). My Wes friends are my forever friends. My Wes education comes with me everywhere.
David Hill: A lot. Wesleyan was, for me, a transformative experience where I really and truly gained confidence in my intellectual abilities and armed myself to go forward into a lot of different things in my life. From being a Management Consultant after college to going to and succeeding at Harvard Law School to being a successful young lawyer in private practice to making a leap of faith by moving in-house as a corporate lawyer to leaving that work and trying a number of different things, I gained the belief in myself to do those things at Wesleyan.
Why did you decide to stay involved with Wesleyan at such a high level?
Ellen Glazerman: Initially I stayed involved to stay close to my friends and classmates. As my career focused in higher education and philanthropy, I developed a new understanding about the differences in a Wesleyan education. Part of what you learn and develop at Wesleyan is the responsibility we all have as citizens to be involved, to take responsibility for making something in the world a little better. For me, my Wes volunteer activities are part of that. When I was searching for my path, Wes connections were always there to guide me. I am committed to paying it forward.
David Hill: I believe, although I think that Wesleyan is different now in some important ways than it was when I got there 40 years ago, that it’s still an incredibly special place. It is unique in many respects in that, it selects people who want to do what I still want to do, which is to find ways to change the world for the better. It’s not a place you go to be told what to study or to be told a path to follow. It gives you the freedom to find your own place, your own path. Being connected to the university, being connected to that special place still means a lot to me.
Could you talk a little bit about the importance of the alumni-elected representation on the Board?
Ellen Glazerman: The Board governs the university. The alumni-elected trustees represent that alumni body and ensure that constituency has a voice at the table when the university is contemplating all major decisions. This is the group that adds completeness to the representation around the table. The candidates are people who have demonstrated their commitment to Wesleyan through years of volunteer service and a commitment to Wesleyan’s success over the long term. When determining the slate, the committee looks at potential gaps on the board – representing geography, professional background, engagement with key components of the community, diversity, etc. These trustees are our voice – whoever we are – in setting the future direction. That is a great deal of responsibility and we are fortunate they are willing to serve.
David Hill: Alumni elected representation gives the Board of Trustees different voices, especially from the younger alum perspectives ─ those it might not otherwise hear from. The younger alums, those who have been out 20 years or less, are more tied to what is actually happening at the university than the majority of alumni representatives are likely to be. It’s an important perspective that should be around that table. I was just 16 years out of Wesleyan when I was privileged to be an alumni elected trustee and it was easier for me to communicate with the students and represent that perspective.
How does participating in the alumni board election fit in with the notion of civic engagement cultivated as an undergraduate?
Ellen Glazerman: The trustees set the direction and make the investments to position Wesleyan for success – or not. Higher education is at a crazy inflection point. In recent years, many employers have begun to focus on skills vs. degrees, people are questioning the value of education, demographics are such that fewer traditionally-aged people will be applying to schools, and there is a focus away from the liberal arts. This is a critical time for universities and Wesleyan. This group of trustees will set the course for the future of the institution. I know I want to have a voice in who is making those decisions. This election is the time for alumni to make their voices heard. Instead of focusing on the rally after the decision is made – voting for trustees amplifies your voice and your perspective.
David Hill: I think Wesleyan is fairly unique among a lot of places in that people select it that want to be involved. The election is an important way that alumni can stay involved in the governance of their alma mater. My job as Alumni Association Chair is to try to find ways to get more folks involved with Wesleyan, participation in the alumni-elected trustee process is just one important way. I’d love to see us substantially raise the percentage of alumni who vote, as it doesn’t currently reflect the commitment most Wes alums have for engagement with Wesleyan and beyond.
What advice would you offer newly minted Wesleyan alumni on staying engaged with the university.
Ellen Glazerman: The Wesleyan community is a gift. It is made up of smart, creative, committed people. Find what is of interest to you and get involved. Be part of a solution, a community, helping others. I found my involvement was different when I was single, when work was crazy, when I had little kids or not a lot of bandwidth, but there was always something to do: attend an event, lead a committee, speak at a seminar, mentor a student, interview a candidate, be class agent, raise money – whatever works for you at the moment. But do it. The network is amazing. Wesleyan people have been a key part of my career and my life.
David Hill: Prioritize Wesleyan. The treadmill of life gets faster and the pace picks up dramatically once you graduate from college. Running on is hard and keeping Wesleyan in the front of your brain to stay engaged is important. If you prioritize it then hopefully, we’ll give you enough ways to connect, whether it is career impacting or social events or opportunities to take classes online. There are lots of ways to stay engaged. Hopefully young alums will accept the invitation and prioritize that as they step into the real world.