Guiding Principles

In the spirit of Bennington College’s traditional commencement statement, the Bennington Alumni Cooperative invites the active participation of alumni in fostering a connection between the College and its graduates that

  • Provides a framework for alumni involvement in the life of the College in ways that celebrate the unique qualities of alumni worldwide;
  • Supports new and creative efforts to connect alumni to one another, students, faculty, and staff;
  • Advances Bennington’s mission and reputation;
  • Provides meaningful programming that simulates the intellectual vitality of the campus experience; and
  • Ensures the long-term financial sustainability of the College.

The intent is to activate and engage a community united by Bennington’s educational ethos of individuality, creative intelligence, and strong ethical sensibility in order to enrich and enhance one another and the College.

Organizing Concepts and Framework

We are building an overall volunteer structure based on the idea of a cooperative, which is, by definition, egalitarian and democratic. Some organizing framework will be put into place to ensure efficiency, sustainability, and clarity of expectations for both the volunteers and the staff. There will be three types of volunteers: those recruited to help the College organize our alumni efforts and to recruit others; those recruited to engage with the College on specific projects or interest areas (for example, events, Field Work Term, admissions); and those who volunteer for opportunities open to all alumni and parents. The lines between each category are fluid, and alumni can fit into more than one at once.

Steering Committee

We aim to recruit 10–15 volunteers to serve on a Steering Committee of the Alumni Cooperative.

These leaders will be recruited from a diverse range of graduation years and locations. This group will be tasked with thinking alongside College leadership about our engagement strategies, leading key efforts at the highest level, and recruiting other volunteers in their region or areas of interest.

There will be two co-chairs from among its members; co-chairs have been recruited from the first four cities to help us organize the launch. Going forward, the Steering Committee will nominate co-chairs from their group.

We will invite Steering Committee members to meet on campus at least once a year to establish goals and priorities and to meet with College leadership and trustees.

Regional Committees

Leadership teams of volunteers will launch in the following cities where alumni are in greatest concentration: Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Other cities will also be considered where there is a willing volunteer but a smaller concentration of alumni. Volunteers in each region will be tasked with organizing events in their region, serving as a resource for other volunteers, and helping to plan College-sponsored activities.

Task Forces by Interest Area

In order to keep volunteers focused and engaged in results-oriented work, we imagine recruiting volunteers to serve on Task Forces that focus on specific areas of interest. An alumna/us can serve on more than one Task Force in addition to a regional committee.

We imagine establishing Task Forces in the following areas: Field Work Term, Admissions, Marketing, Alumni College (Teaching and Learning), Network Building, and Fundraising. The Task Forces are not meant to be fixed and permanent. We plan to build in the flexibility to add more as needed and to retire ones that are no longer needed.

Open Opportunities—“The Cooperative”

In addition to the leadership positions detailed above, we imagine providing a wider range of opportunities for alumni to engage with the College without being a formal part of the Steering Committee. These opportunities will form the heart of the cooperative and will allow alumni to tap into the network or fill a short-term desire to help (organizing an event, for instance, or promoting shows they are in). We open this opportunity to all alumni, and volunteer leaders will work with those who are interested. All alumni are encouraged to share their work, invite others to see their work, help to organize gatherings and outings, and participate in a variety of programs. We have developed a long list of program ideas, but hope that these are built and executed in partnership with our volunteers.