Report on the AAC National Conference, 1971, page 1
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.