Changing Governance and Representation of the Penn State Alumni Association Council

According to the Alumni Association’s by-laws, the Penn State Alumni Association Council was established as the governing body representing the dues-paying members of the Alumni Association. The Council was envisioned to be responsible for its management, control, and development in carrying out the mission of the Association.  The mission of the Association is to connect alumni to the University and to each other, to provide valued service to members, and to support the University’s mission of teaching, research and service.

Only 174,000 out of 631,000 total alums are dues-paying members of the Alumni Association (28%) and we can do better to represent their interests.

Elected Alumni Representation is Significantly Waning

The Alumni Council, set forth in the by-laws, is composed of 30 elected members (all volunteer) and an Executive Director who is paid by the University. In the past decade or so, the inclusion of ex-officio seats for constituent societies, Alumni Interest Groups, College and Campus societies, Affiliate Groups have increased the Alumni Council to over 80 members and the paid staff for the Alumni Association to over 80 employees.

Troubling Change

Further, there is an Executive Board empowered to transact the business of the Association, which has ALL the powers of the Council.  Twelve members of the 17 Executive Board members are appointed annually by the President of Council while the other members include the immediate Past President, President, Vice President,  a liaison from the Board of Trustees and the chairperson  of  the Faculty Senate .  This is troubling because the twelve appointed Executive Board members have an overwhelming majority “to transact the business of the Association.”

The Penn State Alumni Association was at one time set up to be governed by the 30 alumni members of the Council that are voted in or out of office by the members of the Alumni Association.  3-year terms are staggered so that 10 seats are up for election every Spring.  Over the past years the governance of the Alumni Association has moved away from the elected Council members and is now controlled by the Executive Board that is NOT directly voted in by the Alumni Association members.  In essence, it is no longer controlled by direct representation of Association members.


If you are a member of the Alumni Association you have an expectation for representation in the governance of the Penn State Alumni Association.

Unfortunately, its elected representatives no longer control the Alumni Association.

This matters because Alumni Association members no longer have a representative voice into how their dues are used, and to whose benefit.  In fact, right now, the Executive Board is pushing through sweeping changes to further diminish the representation and accountability to the members of the Alumni Association.

What You Can Do:  Take Action and Make a Difference

If you want to have a say in what the membership does for its members, and a say in how the members choose to help Penn State, then you must vote in the Alumni Association Council elections every Spring, and you must tell the Alumni Association that you want your elected representation to have governance authority again.