November 13th, 2012 | University

Alums return to Yale for service opportunities

Photo of a previous AYA assembly.
Photo of a previous AYA assembly. Photo by Michael Marsland.

In celebration of volunteer service, hundreds of Yale alumni returned to campus this weekend to learn about service opportunities provided by their peers and the University.

From Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, roughly 480 alumni participated as delegates from the various Yale schools and alumni interest groups in the Association of Yale Alumni’s annual assembly. This year’s panels, discussions, and award ceremonies — which all focused on “Answering the call to service: Alumni volunteers in the global community” — marked the 72nd assembly in AYA history.

“This is the first assembly [in which] the focus was alumni themselves and community service,” said Mark Dollhopf, AYA executive director. “It was overwhelmingly positive.”

Dollhopf said the event was “phenomenally successful,” paying off the roughly six months that it takes to plan each assembly. Out of the alumni delegates, he said, around a third were first-time attendants of the event, and most people were “surprised at the depth and engagement.”

Representing Yale College classes, the graduate and professional schools, alumni shared-interest groups and the local alumni clubs of many cities and regions both nationally and overseas, the alumni attended several panel discussions on topics such as volunteer leadership, music outreach and educational reform. Six AYA awards and one inaugural public service award were also presented to alumni.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel — who participated in a panel on volunteer service, speaking about his volunteer engagements both at Yale and beyond — called the focus of the weekend’s assembly a “great topic.”

“The current AYA board is very focused on expanding service opportunities,” Brenzel said. “I was happy to participate.”

Edward Greenberg ’59, Richard J. Franke ’53, Ellen Gibson McGinnis ’82, Robert E. Steele ’75, Nancy Stratford ’77 and David F. Swensen ’80 received the six AYA awards. The Yale-Jefferson Public Service Award was given to J.B. Schramm ’86.

Steele said he was both “overwhelmed” and “humbled” by the presentation of the medal. Having friends and family present at the event, he added, “just made it one of those wonderful experiences.”

“I’ve been involved for a number of years in AYA,” he said. “I was honored and really excited.”

On the last day of the three-day assembly, alumni were invited to participate in an “alumni village” tailgate and attend the Yale-Princeton game, fondly revisiting their old memories on campus.