West Point Association of Graduates.

Author:Heffes, Ellen M.
Position:THE OFFICE - Dialogue with Carl P. Moccia - Interview

How did the organization get started?

On Jan. 28, 1869, Robert Anderson (Class of 1825) in a letter to Sylvanus Thayer (Class of 1808) suggested the formation of an association of graduates to promote the welfare of the academy. The organizational meeting was held at the College of the City of New York on May 22, 1869, and at that meeting the constitution and bylaws were adopted.

The association's focus was on fraternal activities ("to cherish the memories of our Alma Mater, and to promote the social intercourse and fraternal fellowship of its graduates").

At its annual meeting in June 1891, it was resolved that the association be incorporated under the laws of New York. On Dec. 1, 1948, the association was granted tax-exempt status by the commissioner of Internal Revenue. The association's first fundraising effort, "The Superintendent's Fund," was launched in 1961, under the supervision of Chairman Lucius Clay (Class of Line 1918) and Vice Chairman George Olmsted (Class of 1922).

All graduates, beginning with the Class of 1994, became members of the association without the requirement of paying an initiation fee. Herbert Alumni Center officially opened in 1995, and the association staff moved from the basement offices in a building near the center of the campus into its new location in a building close to the football stadium near the edge of the campus.

The Bicentennial Campaign for West Point successfully concluded on Dec. 31, 2002, with more than $218 million pledged and $160 million already in hand.

What is the organization's stated mission?

The mission statement reads: "The association shall be dedicated to furthering the ideals and promoting the welfare of the United States Military Academy, and to supporting and serving its graduates."

How has the business model changed?

We began as a fraternal organization to reconcile the breach among graduates who had served on opposite sides in the Civil War and advanced through the years to become a comprehensive alumni association, providing events, conferences, support to the various classes and societies and career assistance to our graduates, as well as a foundation raising funds for specific "margin of excellence" projects for the United States Military Academy or West Point.

We now operate as basically a bifurcated, nonprofit business with two business units: an alumni association serving all of the graduates of the United States Military Academy of West Point and the fundraising partner...

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