Vanderbilt Lawyer - Volume 35, Number 2

Alumni Council Plays Crucial Role in Campaign Success

Corey Stringer admits that becoming the Alumni Council representative for the Class of 2001 wasn't actually his idea.

"I was strong-armed into doing this by my wife, who, well, works at the law school," Stringer acknowledges. Stringer's wife, Niki Stringer, '02, joined the law school's Development and Alumni Relations staff as Assistant Director of Development early in 2005.

The 51 members of the law school's Alumni Council add a personal touch to the law school's annual fundraising efforts, and an important aspect of Niki Stringer's job is recruiting Alumni Council representatives to help with the law school's annual campaign.

Corey Stringer has volunteered to continue serving on the Alumni Council. "I've actually enjoyed it," he says. "I've reconnected with old classmates and really feel like I'm making a difference by contributing more than just money to the law school."

Not to be confused with the National Council, the law school's 48-member alumni advisory board, the Alumni Council is comprised of one member from each graduating class, starting with Wilson Sims of the Class of 1948 and ending with Jenny Hayes of the Class of 2005. Recruited by the staff of the Office of Development & Alumni Relations, Alumni Council volunteers put a familiar face on the law school's annual fundraising campaign.

Alumni Council representatives may share the common goal of encouraging their classmates to support Vanderbilt Law School financially, but they live and work all over the country. Fred Finkelstein, '84, contacts his classmates from Lawrence & Finkelstein, his law office in Bellevue, Washington, while Jack Colvin, '65, sends his letters from his home in Nokomis, Florida. Like the alumni they represent, council representatives include partners in major firms, young associates just starting out, in-house counsel, solo practitioners, public interest attorneys and independent businesspeople.

Before 2004-05, Alumni Council representatives—then known as class agents—simply volunteered to send a series of personal letters soliciting contributions to each of their classmates. Last fall, the law school invited Alumni Council representatives to campus for a fall retreat, held in conjunction with the newly-formed Alumni Councils of the Owen Graduate School of Management and the Divinity School, where volunteers from all three schools had an opportunity to learn how various types of donations are used—and why alumni giving is vital to Vanderbilt's success. Council members also approved a multi-media campaign that added holiday cards and e-mails to the university's traditional solicitation letters.

This innovative campaign resulted in an unprecedented increase in contribution levels. In December 2005, the law school received a record-setting $361,000 in unrestricted contributions. "At a time when the law school's financial needs are growing exponentially, the Alumni Council's work enabled us to reach the next level," Jeff Ulmer, Assistant Dean of Development and Alumni Relations, said. "We are really fortunate to have such a committed group of alumni working with us throughout the year."

For updated information on your class giving participation percentage, visit