Message from the US Foundation Chair: engagement drives philanthropy

Lesley Silvester, Chair of the US-based University of Bristol Foundation, reflects on the importance of  the US Foundation giving in making Bristol great. 

To quote our Vice Chancellor and President Hugh Brady, ‘Philanthropy will increasingly be a critical determinant of Bristol’s success’, asserting that it is a key component in supporting students, recruiting world-class staff and funding research. The Board of the US Foundation understands that such giving can make the difference between a good university and a great one. To that end we are playing an increasingly significant role through our focus on several specific philanthropic goals.

A primary objective has been and continues to be to increase both the amount of support and the number of alumni donors within the US based alumni community. A second goal – complementing the first – is the development of an increasingly strong and vibrant alumni community. Happily, though not surprisingly, the more we reach out and expand our alumni network in the States, the more it becomes apparent that we have a wide and accomplished group with whom to engage. At best count, which we believe in all probability is understated, we have over 5,500 alumni residing here. And we’d like to connect with every one of you.

Key to us achieving our goals is the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) strategy of significantly growing engagement and volunteering partnerships not only in the UK but internationally. The relationship between DARO and the US Foundation has been considerably strengthened over the past few years, as we have aligned around shared goals, communications and events. We can clearly see the powerful mutual benefits to both Bristol and its alumni by building community across all University stakeholders.

At our September Foundation board meeting, Jim Rucker – who has served as a Foundation Director for ten years and has contributed to many of our efforts – retired, and two new directors were elected and welcomed to the group. They are Tim Richie (BA 1978) who resides in Massachusetts and California and Tim Parton (BSc 1986) who lives in the New York area.

During the week of 11 November alumni events were held across the US, in New York, San Francisco and Boston in connection with the Vice Chancellor’s visit. We were delighted that many of you joined us, and hope that you are enjoying being part of the University’s burgeoning community, and are as excited as I am about the University’s vision for its future.

On behalf of the entire Foundation Board we wish you a very happy holiday season and look forward to further engagement in 2020.



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