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    Alumni service on the rise

    Cornell's recently completed capital campaign has generated a boom in philanthropy – and just as Cornellians have reached deep into their pockets, they also have raised their hands high for the university. Over the last decade, there has been steady growth in service to Cornell. In 2005, volunteers numbered 5,267. By 2015, they had grown to 6,808. Including the more than 11,000 current members of the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network, Cornell boasts an estimated 17,000 volunteers.

    Jay Carter

    Jay Carter '71, M. Eng. '72. See larger image

    The link between Cornellians who give and Cornellians who serve – and the many who do both – lies in the idea of maximizing one's personal capacity to do good, according Jay Carter '71, M.Eng. '72: "As I've gone through life, I've come to the conclusion that little old Jay Carter, alone, can't make much of a difference – but when I and others support Cornell, the university can make an impact in New York, the U.S. and around the world."

    Carter speaks firsthand from decadeslong service and philanthropy. He has been a member of several advisory councils and committees, and he and wife, Julie Carter '71, have been recognized as Foremost Benefactors for their charitable contributions.

    Elected chair of the Cornell University Council in 2014, Carter heads the select group of more than 450 council members (many of whom also are university trustees and dedicated donors) serving as advocates and as advisers to the Cornell administration on issues affecting the university community. The council also works closely with staff, particularly the Alumni Affairs and Development Office of Volunteer Programs (OVP), established in 2010 to identify, recruit, train and retain volunteers.

    Laura Denbow, director of OVP, says her team is always exploring innovative ways to reach out to Cornell's 17,000-strong volunteer base. In 2014, in partnership with the Trustee Task Force on Volunteer Leadership, OVP conducted a trial run of a newly developed online tool called CUVolunteer, designed to connect individuals with ways to step up for Cornell.

    "It's similar to a matching website where, at a click of a button, our volunteers find opportunities that align with their interests and talents," she says. To date, CUVolunteer has nearly 2,000 volunteer communities and 2,551 registered users. These numbers are expected to grow after the updated website is launched for all alumni in May.

    For Carter, the digital reach of CUVolunteer goes hand in hand with person-to-person interaction. "The personal ask is terribly important," he emphasizes. He recalls how he got his start as a volunteer for Cornell after his much-beloved sprint football coach, Bob Cullen, asked him "to do what [he] can" for the program.

    In the mid-1970s, Carter and a dozen others formed an alumni association to save the sport from being eliminated. Thanks to their work and through continued support, sprint football has become completely alumni funded, with an endowment of $5 million.

    Carter emphasizes: "It was less about football and more about being a part of a family. The same holds true for serving Cornell."

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