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Feature

Jim du Bois on the U's Washington Avenue bridge.

Jim du Bois, president and CEO of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association, was named the U's 2005 National Volunteer of the Year. Each year, the University involves thousands of people in legislative advocacy efforts and mentoring relationships.

Making time for the U

By Evelyn Cottle Raedler and Pauline Oo

From eNews, October 27, 2005

For the past four years, Jim du Bois has been one very active University of Minnesota alumnus.

Du Bois, president and CEO of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association, serves as the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) representative to the University of Minnesota Alumni Association's board of directors; he's on the U's Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Board and student-run Radio K advisory committee; last year, he led the CLA Alumni Society; and two years ago, he helped to expand CLA's community outreach by developing the highly acclaimed Access Minnesota--a half-hour public affairs radio program that showcases the expertise of CLA faculty and other University representatives. The program, which du Bois also hosts, is now aired on 50 radio stations throughout Minnesota (Radio K airs it on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.) and a television version will be introduced later this month.

On October 7, du Bois was named 2005 National Volunteer of the Year for his support of the University and the College of Liberal Arts. The University of Minnesota Alumni Association (UMAA) has presented this award, along with a host of other volunteer awards (see sidebar), for the past 23 years to University alumni, students, faculty, and staff.

"[The awards are] an opportunity for us to say congratulations and thank you to those who play an invaluable role in helping us achieve our mission--to provide a lifelong connection between alumni and the U," says Margaret Sughrue Carlson, UMAA chief executive officer. "We consider a volunteer's commitment of time and talent crucial to the strength and vitality of our organization and of the University."

Erica Moe Giorgi, alumni relations and annual giving coordinator in CLA, says that she has seen the number and variety of people who volunteer at and for the U grow because the opportunities to volunteer have increased over the years.

And the winners are...

National Volunteer of the Year
Jim du Bois, College of Liberal Arts Alumni Society

Rising Star Award
Jenny Anderson, College of Human Ecology Alumni Society

Student Volunteer of the Year
Cheryl Kempton, College of Human Ecology Alumni Society

Program Extraordinaire Awards
"Access Minnesota," College of Liberal Arts; "Fall Fest 2004," Colleges of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Human Ecology, Natural Resources, and Veterinary Medicine; "Lecture Series," St. Croix Valley Alumni Chapter; "Lunch n' Learn," College of Pharmacy; and "National Public Health Week Film Festival," School of Public Health

Legislators of the Year
Senator Keith Langseth (DFL), Senator Richard Cohen (DFL), Senator Lawrence Pogemiller (DFL), and Representative Ron Abrams (R)

Grand Gold Award
College of Human Ecology Alumni Society

Chapters of the Year
Rochester Area Alumni and Friends of the University of Minnesota and Southwest Florida Chapter

Alumni Society of the Year
Institute of Technology Alumni Society

Alumni Service Awards
Jerry Noyce, past president, UMAA; and Mervyn DeSouza, College of Biological Sciences Alumni Society

"Many people beyond degree-holding alumni have deep affection for and give time to the U," says Giorgi,"[including] those who worked here, were patients in our medical facilities or used University services, or those who have rooted for the Gopher athletic teams."

Giorgi says her staff and those in other collegiate alumni relations offices work closely with the UMAA to channel volunteer efforts where they are needed most. For example, the University involves thousands of people in legislative advocacy efforts each year and thousands more in mentoring relationships with University students, says Giorgi. "We [also] enlist many volunteers to help recruit students to enroll at the U and we ask volunteers to speak to career planning workshops [and to] help us carry out events like commencement... volunteers serve as some of our best ambassadors," she adds.

"At the Carlson School, it is especially important to have volunteers with real-world experience in business to complement the classroom experience," says Lori Kocer, director of alumni services at the Carlson School of Management. "We are fortunate to have many alumni and friends who are excited to come back to the school to share their expertise and 'lessons learned.' [For example,] our undergraduate mentor program has been very popular with students and volunteers alike. It is an opportunity for students to connect personally with someone who has significant experience in their field, and it is a chance for volunteers to be involved in educating and sharing advice with future business leaders."

Opening their pocketbooks

In addition to giving their time, U alumni and friends are also generous with their money. Last year, the U received gifts from 51,145 alumni donors. To learn more, read "More than 51,000 alumni give to the U."

Bob Stein, executive director and chief operating officer of the American Bar Association, is volunteer president of the UMAA's board of directors. He says he volunteers because he is "pleased and proud to give back just a little of what I have received from this great University, especially at a time when both the University and the UMAA are strategically planning for the future."

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the U, visit UMAA online. (Look for the following links on the left navigation bar: Chapters, Collegiate societies, and Interests Groups; Legislative Network; and Career Resources & Mentoring.)