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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 25 · Number 2 · Winter 2008

Charlie Roddy and alumni

Right: CAAA Executive Director Charlie Roddy speaks with alumni at the Home Game Huddle during UC Davis’ Homecoming game. (Photo: Karin Higgins/UC Davis)



Over the next year your Cal Aggie Alumni Association will be revamped, reorganized and rejuvenated, and the CAAA team is seeking your input. Now’s your chance to tell them how they can better serve you.

The Cal Aggie Alumni Association was founded in 1930 and has since undergone a series of new beginnings. The organization became independent from UC Berkeley in 1963 and became dues-based just nine years later. When CAAA moved its headquarters to a prime piece of real estate, the Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, in 1992, the organization dramatically upped its visibility by becoming part of the new “front door” to the campus.

Now 2007 marks another new beginning for CAAA.

For starters, the CAAA board of directors in January established a strategic plan to guide and “grow” the alumni association over the next five years, through 2012. And in May, CAAA welcomed a new executive director, Charlie Roddy, to the team.

Within a month of coming aboard as executive director, Roddy embarked on a comprehensive assessment of CAAA’s programs, services and operations. Between June and October, Roddy met with 180 people — alumni, faculty, staff and students — to determine how people engage with CAAA and why they become involved.

Roddy asked those constituents to share their opinions about how CAAA can improve its programs and services. These meetings were part of a larger goal that Roddy has for CAAA — to bring, as he calls it, “a high touch approach to all operations.”

In keeping with Roddy’s “high touch” philosophy, CAAA made steps to personally connect with its alumni base. CAAA staff mailed thank-you notes to each of the 1,400 alumni, parents, students and friends who attended the 27 alumni association events held between June and October. Over the same period of time, CAAA sent 28,000 e-mails to its members and made phone calls to nearly 100 incoming students.

Moreover, in coordination with UC Davis Extension, CAAA developed an online survey that was sent in mid-October to 22,800 alumni, CAAA members and nonmembers alike. (The survey results had not been compiled at press time.)

The data from this alumni survey will inform Roddy’s audit and will play a large role in further shaping the alumni association’s strategic plan. The data should clearly identify the motivating factors that will lead to increased alumni participation, not just for CAAA and UC Davis Extension, but campuswide.

Even before the alumni survey data is tallied, the results of Roddy’s initial conversations point to some areas for attention. In the past, CAAA has not fully embraced a brand-oriented marketing strategy to expand and enhance its exposure. The organization hasn’t planned, implemented or evaluated its events as successfully as it could have. And it has not taken advantage of all its opportunities for partnerships with other campus departments and units.

Already, CAAA staff members have revamped planning processes to better execute and evaluate events. Other issues will be addressed and remedied over the next year. Furthermore, Roddy aims to identify an “aspirational” peer alumni relations program to which CAAA can look as a model for the organization.

But none of this can be done without your help. This is your chance to tell us how CAAA can better serve you. Specifically, CAAA is asking UC Davis alumni, like you, to contribute by volunteering for one of a series of focus groups that will begin in early 2008.

These focus groups are central to the future of CAAA, as Roddy will use the results to further refine the organization’s strategic plan. “We have every intention of being the best alumni association in the nation, but we can’t get there without you,” Roddy says.

The focus groups will center on five main themes:
• engaging constituents
• strengthening CAAA and increasing membership
• building CAAA endowments
• developing strategic alliances
• ensuring that CAAA has the re-sources necessary to carry out its mission.

If you are interested in volunteering for a focus group or would like to offer your feedback about the alumni association, contact CAAA at or call (800) 242-GRAD.


Neil Freese ’02 is CAAA’s communications officer.