Message from President Jeffrey Herbst

Today’s decentralized, rapidly changing, and unpredictable new economy presents challenges for people of all ages and stages of their careers. But those associated with our university know of its unique strength: the lifelong value of the Colgate network.
    As I wrote last spring, we have moved the Center for Career Services into the Division of Institutional Advancement so that we could more readily tap our strong alumni network and secure internships for students much earlier in their college careers. This realignment also has many benefits for alumni — who are already enjoying the fruits of an even stronger and more connected network. The most dynamic and innovative development is certainly the launch of several professional networks, with more to come.

Left to right: Michael Sippey ’90, Twitter’s VP of product and design; Bharat Mediratta ’92, distinguished software engineer at Google; Julian Farrior ’93, founder and CEO of Backflip Studios; President Jeffrey Herbst; and David Fialkow ’81, P’17, principal, partner, and co-founder of General Catalyst Partners, at the launch of the Digital Media and Technology Network last November. (Photo by Charles Barry)
    Colgate’s professional networks are intended to be “communities” — where alumni can assemble under common or complementary professional industries or interests. Alumni can find mentors, learn industry trends, identify employment leads, develop practical skills, and advance in their careers. Each network will also provide students with new on-ramps to professional industries through advice and mentorship, internships and job shadowing, and hiring opportunities as well as participation in events and programs. In particular, internships are absolutely indispensable credentials for students seeking their first jobs.
    Several of these networks are already in full swing. The Colgate Real Estate Council, which launched almost two years ago, hosts a variety of events, such as a speaker series and student immersion trips. Appropriately, we launched the Colgate Entertainment Group on two coasts: in Los Angeles and in New York. The LA launch was hosted by Steven Brookman ’81, P’16 and Carrie Clifford ’93 at the Creative Artists Agency headquarters. The event featured a panel moderated by Ken Baker ’92, chief news correspondent for E!, that included television producer and executive Zoe Friedman ’89, screenwriter Ted Griffin ’93, award-winning TV director Barnet Kellman ’69, TV writer and producer James Manos ’81, and film and TV actress Gillian Vigman ’94.
    At the launch of the Finance Network in New York this past September, NYSE Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer ’81 summed up the effort with a mathematical metaphor: “It’s about networks; it’s about engagement; it’s about mentorship. You add all of that up, and it’s about connectivity to each other and to Colgate.”
    And at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., in November, at the launch of the Digital Media and Technology Network, I had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion with alumni working in one of the most dynamic sectors of the economy. Our fascinating conversation covered the impact of the mobile sector, threats and opportunities for higher education and global technology, and the need to expose students to the West Coast culture of “try and fail.” (You can read more here, and watch a video of the conversation at youtube.com/cuatchannel13.) That the more than 150 alumni who participated came from such varied aspects of the field, from venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, to marketing executives and product developers, is a strong indication of how well a Colgate education prepares graduates for success in any career.
    In the next few months, we plan to launch new networks focusing on entrepreneurship, health and wellness, and the common good. By mid-year, we will have a set of networks that span a great many of the fields in which our alumni work, and have developed a whole new path for graduates to interact with the university.
    Of course, as we use the latest technologies and social media to foster these networks, it is worth noting that each of those inaugural events took place in person at a specific time and place. For many, part of the fun — and meaningfulness — came in enjoying each other’s company, renewing friendships, or making new contacts. It was particularly poignant for me to note that even while we were at Google’s headquarters — arguably ground zero in the digital revolution — we were meeting in person rather than dialing in.
    In a world where our machines are ubiquitous, it is personal contact and interaction that will be especially prized. That is also the foundation of Colgate’s approach to education. Over the generations, we have succeeded by establishing close personal relationships between professors and students, and this is why we seek to build an even more vibrant residential community for our students.
    If you would like to learn more about our professional networks, contact our alumni relations office (alumni@colgate.edu) or visit colgate.edu/networks.