Task Force on Belonging Shares Top Recommendations for the CAA

June 27, 2022
New Updates

Since sharing their recommendations in August of 2021, the Task Force on Belonging has been hard at work, collaborating with staff and alumni volunteers on many initiatives to help increase feelings of belonging among all alumni of the University. 

  • The development of a Community Standard* will help define the environment expected when engaging with the alumni community and the standard to which we hope all Columbians aspire. 
  • The development of training, focused on microaggressions and intersectionality, for alumni volunteers is underway. Once established, CAA volunteers will have the opportunity to improve the inclusivity of the CAA clubs and groups they lead.
  • A checklist is being finalized for staff and volunteers to use as a guideline to ensure events, communications, and volunteer opportunities are as inclusive as possible.
  • Collaborative efforts have been enhanced, across both staff and volunteer-led organizations, to create more intersectional opportunities as well as to further the mission of ‘One Columbia’.
  • Steps are being taken to expand the events featured on the CAA calendar in order to allow alumni to more seamlessly identify and attend programs that are of interest. 

We thank the members of the Task Force on Belonging for their service and look forward to providing future updates on the efforts and initiatives that are sure to be developed thanks to the hard work of this extraordinary group of Columbians. 

*CAA Community Standard

The Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) commits to supporting and maintaining an accessible and visible community where diversity of identity and thought is respected and celebrated. The participants in all CAA programs, activities, and volunteer opportunities, are charged with creating environments where alumni, students, families, faculty, staff, and friends of the University treat each individual and group with collegiality, inclusivity, and respect.

Since its inception in 2005, the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) has focused its efforts on creating an environment where all alumni, students, and members of the broader Columbia community feel welcome, and where all events, interactions, and opportunities reflect and celebrate both every individual and the community as a whole. As the alumni community continues to grow and approaches 375,000 members, this tenet is more important than ever.

At its January 2020 retreat, the CAA Board made belonging the most significant priority for CAA leadership and resolved to create the CAA Task Force on Belonging. While external forces in our community and world delayed the initiative, they also amplified its importance.

Following the execution of several benchmarking discussions with peer institutions, a review of the CAA’s current offerings, multiple focus groups, individual conversations, and a survey process including thousands of alumni, the Task Force arrived at the following five overarching recommendations for the CAA:   

  • Enhance engagement and feelings of belonging through segmented programmatic offerings.   
  • Ensure strategic planning and cross‐collaboration across programmatic and volunteer efforts, especially amongst segmented groups and clubs, to build a stronger sense of unity with volunteers and alumni overall.    
  • Increase awareness of existing programmatic and volunteer opportunities, as well as brand recognition of the benefits of engagement with the University and CAA.  
  • Continue to gather and utilize data to understand why alumni do and do not participate in CAA engagement opportunities. 
  • Continually assess the effectiveness of initiatives to ensure broad community inclusion and representation in all events and programs, communications, and volunteer opportunities. 

Read the cited appendices

The Task Force is very proud of the work that has led to the above recommendations, and the group intends to remain in formation for an additional year to continue its work and ensure the adoption of these recommendations. The task force would like to receive additional feedback. If you would like to share yours, the survey is still open.

If you have any questions or would like to send your feedback via email, contact [email protected].

Meet the Task Force Below

CAA Task Force on Belonging

Rolando Acosta '79CC, '82LAW
A'Lelia Bundles '76JRN
Elisa Chaters '01SIPA.
Carlos Cuevas '05CC, '12MPH, '12SIPA
Keith Goggin '91JRN
Ted Gregory '74CC
Alicia Guevara '94CC, '14BUS
Sitara Herur-Halbert '19GS
Wanda Holland Greene '89CC, '91TC
Marvellous Iheukwumere '14CC
Riley Jones '17CC
Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti '12CC
Peter Liang '08BUS
Tania Martin-Mercado '15SPS
Alece Oxendine '11SOA
Will Plews Ogan '22GSAS '23LAW
Zoe Ramushu '20JRN
Kiara Reed '11GS, '16BUS, '16SIPA
Brandon Shi '22CC
Laura Thornton '20SIPA
Ying Yen '95CC

This Task Force focused its efforts on the CAA and its community. For more information about similar initiatives taking place around the University, we encourage you to visit the links below:

Office of the President

Office of the Provost

Office of University Life - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts at Columbia's Schools, Centers, and Institutes

Office of University Life - Inclusion and Belonging at Columbia

Undergraduate Student Life

Columbia College

Columbia Engineering