The CSE alumni board will be an organization meant to develop and promote a sense of community between alumni and the CSE Department students and faculty. In steady state, the alumni board will consist of 12 alumni, chosen foremost by the person's interests, dedication, and inspiration towards the board mission. An ideal board would consist of a diverse set of alumni in terms of profession, highest degree, age, sex, ethnicity, graduation date, and geography.
The motivation behind this board is to, primarily, increase the value and impact of our educational mission. In doing so, it can also impact our research mission. We view the alumni board doing this in four ways:
By giving guidance to current students, both graduates and undergraduates. While there are several different organizations and individuals to whom the alumni can turn to for advice, our alumni are unique in that they have already gone through our program and have developed opinions on the usefulness of their educational experience. We would like to have our students be able to ask our board members broad questions on how to approach their education. For example, our students might wish to know which classes were useful and which were not; the value and drawbacks of working while being a student; how to choose an internship; what it means to get involved in research; what skills are needed for a given profession; how to write a resume; how to balance work and play. To support this, we propose to have an alumni career day in which students can talk to our board, individually or in a group setting.
By giving critical feedback to the various efforts the department undertakes to develop its educational mission. The department periodically reviews its educational programs and changes them to keep them relevant and reflective of the strengths of the department faculty. We currently have no way to solicit feedback from alumni when we undertake these efforts. The alumni board would give us a way to get feedback. Similar activities for which the department would benefit from such feedback are the periodic graduate program reviews and the periodic "charting the course" planning done bottom-up campus wide.
As part of this relationship, it is important for the alumni board to have a view of our research mission. Hence, we see value in creating an event that showcases our research to the board as well as other interested individuals. This would most conveniently be done following the Jacobs School of Engineering Research Expo because our students will have generated research posters for that event. If there is interest, this could also serve as a CSE alumni reunion event.
By engaging potential students. The department has three main recruiting activities: admit day for potential incoming students from high school, transfer admit day for potential incoming students from community colleges, and graduate student visit day for potential graduate students. Having board members attend these events would give a unique and honest perspective to our program that is hard to provide otherwise.
By serving as a conduit to other CSE alumni. The department has set up a presence both in LinkedIn and in Facebook, which we hope will give a powerful mechanism for contacting an alumni base. The department plans to use this to disseminate information about the department and its alumni. The alumni board, however, could undertake the task of developing new ideas on how to use this, or other mechanisms, to engage our alumni in department life and culture.
These four activities should be seen as a place to start. We wish to give the alumni board considerable space to refine or grow their mission. There are several ideas that have been raised as possible events, including "insider lunches" in which a selected professor meets a set of invited alumni for lunch; creating awards to be given to students or faculty by alumni vote as an effort to positively reinforce and recognize exemplary action; create an outreach effort to promote UCSD CSE to local schools and community colleges; establish regional alumni meetings in, for example, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
The alumni board will be self-governing and can structure itself as it sees fit. The board will have 12 members, with each member serving a two year term; the terms will be staggered to give continuity. One board member will be the president, normally held by a board member during their second year. The board will be responsible for electing new members, and choosing its president. We will add a faculty member to be a 13th member to the board to give an active tie to the department: this faculty member will serve as the board's advocate in the department and will report on board activities to the faculty.
Operationally, we wish the board to meet two or three times a year, and ask board members to attend these meetings (in person or virtually if necessary). We wish the agenda to be prepared by the president ahead of time and minutes be kept and distributed. More constructively, though, we wish the board to use these meetings to review, refine, or modify the activities the board participates in and to interact with the department. Our aim is to have as open a relationship as possible with the board, and the meetings a way to exchange information in person.
For example, the board can ask the department to present information in these meetings, such as reports on curriculum revision, on our plans for student awards, status reports on our student mentoring program, or meeting with graduate students to find out what issues there are in starting research. The board can choose what information to seek in various ways: for example, they could ask the faculty board member to give a report at each meeting, or ask the CSE department chair or committee chairs to give presentations. Or, they could choose some professor, who ever they wish, to come and give a talk at their meeting. They could ask for reports from student organizations or meetings with alumni affairs of the Jacobs School of Engineering.
The meetings will also be used for administrative activities, such as defining budgets, electing new members, and reviewing past events.
The department will work with the board to support their activities. We will provide space and parking for meetings here at UC San Diego. Assuming that the state allows us to, we will defray costs of travel. We expect most alumni board members will be from Southern California, but envision having some members from Northern California or other locations within an inexpensive flight. We are envisioning a maximum annual budget of $18,000 to support travel expenses, including a group dinner on meeting days. We will also provide web space (in a new "alumni" section) for posting agenda, minutes, and biographies of alumni board members.
The board and the department will review annually the activities of the board and their interaction with the department. We will define and review concrete metrics to ensure that the relationship is mutually beneficial.