A Responsibility to Enhance Education
“Before I joined the United Board Fellows Program, I was in a comfort zone,” Elisabeth Penti Kurniawati said. She enjoyed her role as a member of the accounting department at Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW) in Indonesia and her research interests in business and entrepreneurship. “I felt that all the activities at my university were fine and nothing needed to be changed on my campus.” She gained a new perspective on her career, however, as a 2014-2016 United Board Fellow, especially during her placements at International Christian University (ICU) in Japan and Mary Baldwin College in the United States. “It opened my mind and made me realize that, as a faculty member, I have a big responsibility to be involved in enhancing education.”
At ICU, she learned how the university manages its endowment and how this type of fund can help a college or university reduce its reliance on tuition fees. She also compared how ICU builds long-term relationships with its alumni with Indonesian practices. “In Indonesia, alumni tracking and relationship management are required for institutional accreditation assessment,” Ms. Kurniawati pointed out, but ongoing communication with alumni can bring many benefits. “Alumni know the strengths and weaknesses of a university,” she said. “They can give us feedback to improve the university in many aspects. They can share ideas, experiences, and funds, as an expression of care for the university.”
In May 2016, Ms. Kurniawati joined eight of her colleagues on a donation program task force, charged with developing a website for the Satya Wacana Career Center & Alumni office. The goal was to create a platform for fundraising purposes and to strengthen bonds with alumni by sharing news and information. More recently, UKSW took another significant step to strengthen its resource base: on October 1, it launched a Resource Development and Mobilization Bureau. The bureau will help university leaders identify and mobilize external resources; develop a database of potential donors; strengthen relations with current individual and institutional donors; create fundraising publications; and collaborate with the Bureau of Promotion, Public Relations and Alumni on alumni outreach.
Enhancing education can encompass faculty development, student services, improving campus facilities, and more. It also can mean, as Ms. Kurniawati discovered, investing time, effort, and expertise in ways to strengthen a university’s base of support and expand the circle of alumni and other friends who are committed to its success.