The Lamest Excuse Ever For Not Supporting Your Alma Mater

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by jasperdog, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Recently on a thread on a topic about what some view as an issue at Kings Point I noted the following two statements which I've excerpted here:

    "This can impact how the alum view the school when they graduate and therefore not feel inclined to be supportive. "

    "I totally agree with you about the possibilities of Alums not wanting to contribute financially if the same ridiculousness, to put it politely, hasn't changed. ..."

    For the past several years I've heard these sorts of things and they are not new. Indeed a group of people think that the reason one class - The USMMA Class of 1974 - have some of the worst historical numbers for donating to their Alma Mater is because of the fact they had a rough time due to early graduation to supply grads for the Vietnam War. This despite one of their number is a former Maritime Administrator.

    Me, I'm a grad, as well as a parent of a current midshipman, and I find this entire reaction and argument ludicrous. My feeling and bottom line, which I've put forth on this forum before is simple and straight forward. Every USMMA grad has some good and some bad memories. None of them should deter us from helping others have similar or better opportunities than the ones given to us by the Alumni who came before us. There are numerous things that Alumni giving supports and that support is needed for those activities to be continued be they the Waterfront, Athletics, or other things the Government cannot or otherwise does not fund.

    I believe all these sorts of excuses for not giving that tie back to "KPS sort of stuff" - of which I think are three things:
    1) Hypocritical - if it was that horrible while you were there why didn't you quit and do something else with your valuable time?
    2) Selfish - especially if while you were at the USMMA, some sort of thing like Sailing or Football was what kept you sane and helped you get through the challenge, since that activity wasn't then and isn't now fully supported by the Government and was instead something made available to you through the generosity of donors.
    3) Rationalization - why don't USMMA grads donate more to their alma maters? - you know say at the same sort of average annual donation per year that donors to their Alma Maters at the USNA, USMA, USAFA, or USCGA give? I'll say it here - we Kings Pointers are conservative in most things and when it comes to our own wallets and taking money out of it, at best we are conservative and at worst we are cheap. So we use things like these excuses to rationalize and justify our behavior.

    Linking things like having a tough or even unfair professor or two to low annual giving rates just makes no sense to me. I've said it before and I'll say it again - we all, myself included, should donate more to our Alma Mater. I'm pleased to see guys like Bob Burke and others stepping up and saying that to us, as well as "walking the walk." As for parents of current midshipmen, myself included, we should also donate more if we can afford to do so as well. However, as parents of midshipmen, we need to step back and let the USMMA be properly run and while I sympathize with my own DS about his own current challenges with Economics, I don't think I can OR SHOULD do anything else beside provide moral support. He's now been around the world - literally - and is basically a young adult so has to take responsibility for his own actions and accomplishments. If that means he has to read 25 pages a night, then that's what he'll have to figure out how to do - after all it's not high school. Even Ivy League Universities are known to have some tenured professors who are "horrible" etc.

    Okay now folks can and I'm sure will decry many if not all aspects of my comments here as "tough love" often doesn't seem to be appreciated here but that's okay I don't plan on running for office in the USMMA Parents - Teachers Association any time soon.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  2. kpbaseballmom

    kpbaseballmom Member

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    You are correct, JD, that parents should not do anything about this kind of situation, but administration can and should. Several letters to the alum and parents have been written by the head of the alumni association and the president of the alumni foundation about alumni support of the school and the state of morale at Kings Point among the current midshipmen. It is not a small issue.

    Jim Tobin, president of the Alumni Foundation told the parents that the physical condition of Kings Point is at a tipping point and if something isn't done soon to remedy the situation, there may be a point of no return.
    Part of the alumni association's plan is going to include a direct campaign requesting strenuous support from the alumni to help the Academy. I do not think that the term "cheap" is acceptable when describing the alumni. More likely, as has been written about in the "Kings Pointer", graduates have felt that there have been certain unfair and unreasonable situations that have been allowed to continue. Some of those situations include poor professors - not hard or demanding professors that are good teachers - but those who do not have a clue as to the pedagogy of teaching. That's what the students are complaining of - not that they have to work hard. It's one thing to think that as a student you have to work hard at studying a subject, it is another thing to believe that no matter what you do, you have no chance of a good grade.
     
  3. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    I share Jasperdog's sentiments when it comes to alumni giving and agree that I'm not so sure I can chalk it up to bad professors or a bad experience.

    I put it up more to laziness than anything. I've spoken to many fellow alumni over the years and most who have not donated simply shrug their shoulders. They don't really know why they don't donate, they just haven't.

    Part of this in my eyes is due to what I see as ineffective campaigns. There hasn't been in the past several years a singular goal towards donations other than "donate." I have seen with other groups how certain campaigns can get people to donate. Let the alumni association make a single or two goals each year and advertise those goals. You want a new pier, make that the goal and let alumni know how much money is needed. Advertise it, get the people directly affected out to the alumni groups, send emails, and I think you'll see some money.

    One of the ideas I put forward last year, and should be in effect this year, is that USMMA will hopefully be a participant in the govt's Combined Federal Campaign. This makes it very easy for active duty and federal employees to make donations. Something that can be put on "auto pilot".

    Another area is participation. Even if you can get people to donate 20 bucks it's better than nothing, we need to work on this. Maybe it's time to start making the alumni association a fee to join, especially to receive the Kings Pointer. I imagine that is a pretty big expense, and right now....it's free. Grab midshipmen while they are at the Academy, like USNA, to become members and get their buy-in while there. It's much easier to keep them than it is to "get" them once they are graduates.
     
  4. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    KPBaseballmom: re: your reaction to my statement: "I do not think that the term "cheap" is acceptable when describing the alumni."

    I am an active alumni and over the past two years I've had several direct conversations at a fair amount of depth with Charlie Hill and Jim Tobin on these subjects (morale, state of facilities, annual giving, the current federal budget and our efforts to lobby for the same, etc.), I am confident in saying I know they agree with me that as a collective group WE (USMMA Alumni) ARE CHEAP or to be kind - frugal to a fault.

    As for Charlie's articles on the subject of "morale and fairness" at Kings Point they were precipitated by a particular situation and acts and statements by the prior superintendent and in fact shortly after they were published in the Kings Pointer, I was at a medium sized gathering of active alumni and many, if not most of us, present expressed dismay at the use of his column to "air dirty laundry". Suffice it to say Charlie and we disagreed on the topic, however I would note that subsequent columns have not for whatever reason been so used or inclined to be so.

    As to Jim Tobin's statements as to the state of the Physical facilities - I think that is basically something that 95+% of Alumni and parents, as well as industry stakeholders can and do agree upon - the facilities are in a state where the DoT budget needs to provide additional monies for capital imporvements to the Academy's underlying infrastructure. Further, I'm pretty sure we are all pleased to see the budget increases, all be it modest increases, when compared to the amount the US Government spends directly, let alone indirectly, annually to support the similarly sized US Coast Guard Academy.

    That said I've now heard the following people - Secretary LaHood, Administrator Matsuda, RADM Greene (USMMA '78), Captain Jim Tobin (USMMA '77) President USMMAAA & Foundation, and Mr. Charles Hill (USMMA '65) Chairman USMMAAA and Foundation, all speak directly to the need and expectation on the current Administration's (Secretary LaHood) part that we USMMA Alumni increase our own support and trend towards the level of support that USCGA and USNA graduates and their foundations provide those institutions. Our historical underachievement in this area/regard while not widely published and discussed is in fact well documented.

    While each of us is entitled to our opinions I guess we disagree - I'm looking at your statement in reaction to my post:

    Suffice it to say - I disagree with you on that point stridently - especially the notion that these sorts of feelings are or should be in any way a legitimate reason why post-graduation that an Alumni should not support our Alma Mater through withholding or reducing our donations. As I told my own DS this weekend, while I listened to how the economics test he recently scored poorly on was "virtually impossible" to score well on, and the said Professor who gave the test is both a poor teacher as well as a jerk who shows no one any respect as a human being; all that may be true but life isn't fair. I went on to say, like the things he will find, in the real world he can't wait to get back out into to make his mark upon, as virtually all USMMA Alums strive to do, he'll no doubt encounter similar situations and people, and when he does just like now, he'll have to work his way through it. After discussing it further with him, I even pretty much conceded that he's right, it's (USMMA and getting through it) harder now for him, than it was for me 30 years ago, but again that just doesn't matter.

    I guess I could have "gotten on my horse" and sent emails or letters to Charlie, Jim, Admiral Greene or Dean Kumar as well as several of the members of the USMMAAA Board of Directors I know and pointed out all sorts of things I don't like, etc. about the particular professor's conduct, etc. Were there some things said that might have been worth bringing them to those people's attention - maybe, but I think they've likely heard them before. Also truth be told I think there are many, many other more important things we as Alumni need to focus on. Further I think the efforts by Dean Kumar over the past 3+ years to raise the Academic Standards across the board - both for and by students and faculty are making progress and "Rome wasn't built in a day" particularly when, as regards the faculty, we are dealing with U.S. Federal Civil Service law, tight budgets, and an Academic year that makes things like research, etc. difficult at best.

    As of this point in time, my reaction to this sort of stuff is clearly somewhat more defensive than yours. That's because, I do not take for granted, nor do I think we interested supportive stakeholders should ever take for granted, continued funding or Congressional support - at any level - for the Academy. Those concerns are far more deeply and broadly rooted than concerns that one particular Economics Professor is: a) unrealistic in his expectations as to the amount of material that even good students can cover in a week's time; and b) makes what at times are ludicrous statements that might be generally construed as disrespectful to students as human beings to the point of being demeaning.

    However, even if I did feel this was something that should be on my top five list of concerns relative to my Alma Mater and my only son's current college, I would not feel it was a legitimate reason for me to reduce or withhold contributions to the USMMAAA & Foundation. As I implied in my post that originated this thread, I expected a reaction from others who disagree with my position and indeed I welcome the discussion. However, when it's all said and done what I am trying to do is to get every graduate, or soon to be graduate, to ask themselves if they really think any of these sorts of issues and lingering feelings about them are legitimate reasons for them to not work to provide current midshipmen with opportunities similar to or better than generous alumni made possible for them while they were attending the USMMA.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  5. kpbaseballmom

    kpbaseballmom Member

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    "You are correct, JD, that parents should not do anything about this kind of situation, but administration can and should".

    I stand by my first sentence. It's not the parents' job to stay on top of teachers, supervise them, correct them when they are not doing their job, observe them to see how they conduct their classes, read and consider the feedback from the students, re-train them if they don't know how to speak in a respectful way to the mids, etc. It's the administration's job.

    A failure in a class like this can result in disenrollment for some mids, depending on circumstances. That would be a great shame, especially if the majority of the class fails.
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I preface this with "I am not a USMMA alum".


    I believe in part the other service academies benefit from the culture developed after graduation. Following my graduation from CGA, I see my classmates all the time. I wear the same uniform as all of them, every day, at least for 5 years.

    KP grads have so many options following graduation; which service will the be in, merchant, NOAA.... the possibilities are endless. While I'm reminded everyday who I graduated with and where I came from, it's not as "in your face" for some of my KP-originating coworkers (shipmates).


    Just a thought....maybe wrong....
     
  7. kp2001

    kp2001 USMMA Alumnus

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    An interesting point that I had not thought of before. I think there is probably at least a little validity to this. Peer pressure is always a good way to improve donations.
     

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