Report on the AAC National Conference, 1971

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August 3, 1971
 
 To: President Peterson
 From: Nora Percival
 Re: Report on the AAC National Conference
 
 The dominant thrust of this year's conference in Washington was
 really an exploration of survival methods. From the first general
 session, the emphasis was on ways of dealing with this year's crop
 of campus problems (which some feel to be even more pernicious
 than rebelling students) -- dwindling student interest in education,
 dwindling alumni support, dwindling income in the face of rising
 costs, and dwindling credibility for educational philosophies.
 
 The alumni business is in a precarious state, and new ways must
 be found to counteract the downward trends. Knowledgeable people
 in many related areas were heard from in the search for prescriptions
 for our common disease -- members of the press educational staffs,
 the president of the National Center for Voluntary Action (in joint
 session with ACPRA), Newsweek's editor-in-chief Osborn Elliott,
 Secretary of the Treasury John Connaly, and a couple of college
 presidents -- as well as a full range of top AAC members. The
 group discussions were, I felt, especially valuable, providing
 an exchange of ideas with people having similar concerns and
 difficulties.
 
 Some main points that emerged from the conference: volunteerism
 needs a higher profile to supply the meaningful programs needed by
 the youngest alumni, who need support of their impulses to serve;
 continuing education opportunities for graduates are a strong and
 growing trend (some schools are already offering lifetime education
 opportunities); a positive way to involve young alumnae in their
 organizations is to develop more points of contact during their
 student days; because public -- especially federal -- support will
 be more and more vital, higher education must learn how to "sell
 itself” more effectively to the community, on every level all the
 way up to the national -- self-evaluation programs are necessary to
 achieve this goal.
 
 The women's colleges gave the impression of being, in general,
 on a less precarious footing than many others. Most of us felt,
 I think, that we could have a great deal to offer each other and
 should develop more joint programs. The women's lib theme was in
 evidence in several sessions, particularly in a communications
 panel on the subject in which Emily Flint (Barnard '30) participated
 most effectively, and which produced some very lively exchanges
 on role stereotypes in alumni reporting.
 
 
My own presentation on Barnard's plans for a Women's Center
 and this year's Reunion program cam during a panel on "Imaginative
 New Programs for Women" in which the College of Notre Dame, Douglass
 College and Mount Holyoke also articipated. It produced a good
 deal of interest and enthusiasm, most particularly from Simmons
 and Sweet Briar; but a number [handwritten] 33 actually! of others also requested a transcript
 of the talk. Several listeners hope to explore the possibilities
 of working with our center to stimulate their own women's programs.
 Radcliffe seemed a bit uneasy at our ambitions -- as Barbara Norton
 pointed out to me afterwards, Radcliffe's future character will
 depend to a large extent on its effectiveness as a center for
 women’s extra-academic programs -- so they may be understandably
 trepidant that our aim to become a national center for women may
 well cut the ground from under their feet. ‘
 
 A useful bonus was a luncheon meeting with nine Washington
 Club officers and BARS, which produced a wealth of clarifications
 of their program plans and needs, ways the Alumnae Office can
 help them more effectively, and other insights into the club and
 its leaders. I am convinced we must do more to create opportunities
 for direct discussions of this kind in every accessible club area.
 
 In summary, the Conference made most of its participants feel
 that colleges and alumni groups must do more to develop sound and
 clearly-stated goals, develop greater coordination among the various
 echelons who work for the college, and the general public, and
 develop programs clearly worthy of the increased support they
 must have.
 
 cc: Mrs. Hertz
 Mrs. Mintz
 Miss Moorman
 Mrs. Gould
 Mrs. Johnson
 Miss McCann
 Mrs. Goldenheim
 Prof. Stimpson