The 1634 Society, a fledgling organization focused on bolstering undergraduate-alumni relations, has proved itself as an important resource to the university in its few months of existence.
The organization, which became an independent entity from the Senior Class Fund in summer 2011, attempts to function as a liaison for students with the Office of Advancement and encourages donations from alumni and current students after they graduate.
“I’m confident in saying, in the next three to four years, 1634 will be a [The] Corp or Credit Union on Georgetown’s campus. That is our goal and I am extremely confident that we can achieve that,” board member Bryan Satterly (SFS ’13) said.
The group now has 40 members, or trustees, and five board members. The organization is inspired by the vision of Jesuit priests Andrew White and John Gravenor, who arrived in Maryland in 1634 intending to build a university, and who were an integral influence on Georgetown’s founder, John Carroll. According to Satterly, the 1634 Society’s mission is to help foster a culture of philanthropy among undergraduate students that will continue after they leave Georgetown.
“We truly believe that Georgetown is and should be recognized as one of the top-tier institutions for learning, now and for generations to come, and I think that part of what’s holding us back is lack of tradition and lack of philanthropy,” he said.
Georgetown did not begin to seriously focus on developing its endowment until Leo O’Donovan served as university president in the 1990s.
While the 1634 Society began in 2010 as a part of the Senior Class Fund, a group dedicated to educating students about philanthropy, it became a separate entity last year. Satterly and board member John Kenchelian (COL ’12) were members of the Senior Class Fund when the 1634 Society became an independent organization.
“The Senior Class Fund has their eye on current results, while we have our eye on current results and future results,” Kenchelian said. “We want students to not only think about improving Georgetown as undergraduates, but [also] as alumni.”
The 1634 Society spent its first semester as an autonomous organization focused on leading the undergraduate component of the Campaign for Georgetown, which hopes to raise $1.5 billion dollars by 2016.
This spring, they plan to bring an alumnus to speak to students on campus each month. They will also launch a multimedia campaign to raise awareness about their organization and are currently accepting student trustee applications.
“We want to choose people to add to our group who want to emulate what Georgetown is about — the Jesuit values and [being] men and women for others. [We want] future leaders — people who really embody those values and will carry them throughout their lives and make sure that those values are there for others,” Ron Boehmer (COL ’12) said.
As a group devoted to alumni relations, the 1634 Society works closely with the Office of Advancement and Alumni Career Services to plan and execute student-alumni networking events. One of the organization’s primary responsibilities is the leadership of the student aspect of the ongoing Campaign for Georgetown. The organization also partnered with The Corp Service and Outreach Committee and the Office of Advancement to sponsor the inaugural Homecoming Humanitarian Award last semester.
Emily White, the assistant director of Alumni Career Services, stressed the importance of undergraduate-alumni relations and the role of the 1634 Society in their promotion.
“Our [alumni’s] appetite to connect with students is extremely strong. The Georgetown network literally spans the globe with alumni who are ready, willing and able to share their expertise and experiences,” she wrote in an email. “Our hope is that every student is able to take advantage of this strong network and have a meaningful connection with an alumnus during their time on the Hilltop.”