Campus News

UK Alumni Association Unveils New Membership Model

photo of Bowman, the wildcat statue
Bowman, the statue at UK's Wildcat Alumni Plaza.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 11, 2019) — An upcoming transition in the University of Kentucky Alumni Association membership model will create new incentives for alumni and friends to make gifts to any UK fund and receive valuable donor recognition from the UK Alumni Association.

Beginning July 1, 2019, the UK Alumni Association will shift to a new membership model that will no longer offer new one- and three-year memberships, however all current memberships as of this date will be honored until those memberships expire. Under the new model, all alumni and friends who choose to support any UK college, department or cause at $75 or more per year cumulatively (or $25 or more for students and recent graduates) will be considered active members of the UK Alumni Association and receive an enhanced tier of member benefits. To check out the wide array of UK funds alumni can support, visit www.kentuckycan.uky.edu.

Additionally, all who have successfully completed at least 12 credit hours at UK will be recognized as members of the UK Alumni Association and will receive a basic level of benefits. This change will increase opportunities for meaningful engagement with the broader alumni base.

“This is a very exciting time for the University of Kentucky and the UK Alumni Association,” said Tim Walsh, associate vice president for alumni engagement and executive director of the UK Alumni Association. “For over 50 years, the association has been a dues-based membership organization and that model served alumni well. However, we are always looking for ways to improve. Several years ago, our organization’s previous administration and elected officers began to look at how the association could better serve more alumni and the university as a whole.

“It is partially because of their foresight as good stewards of the organization that we are on the precipice of being able to better serve and build relationships with a broader alumni base.”

Some things are not changing, however. The Life Membership and Wildcat Society programs will be maintained, although the cost of a single Life Membership will increase from $850 to $1,000 on July 1, 2019. Joint Life Memberships will increase from $950 to $1,100 on the same date.

A number of factors went into the decision to develop a new membership model.

The new model is an opportunity for the UK Alumni Association to serve and build relationships with alumni and friends who have not previously been members. This means thousands more alumni and friends will have access to the association’s varying levels of services and programs.

Elimination of the one- and three-year membership programs, in combination with other deliberate campuswide efforts, will reduce the number of solicitations people will receive from the university each year.

One- and three-year membership trends were another factor. While UK Alumni Association’s Life Membership program continues to thrive, the one- and three-year membership programs have not experienced the same growth in recent years. Over the last several years many schools have migrated away from the traditional “membership dues” model.

“Changing culture has been a big factor in declining membership trends nationwide for many membership-based organizations, not just alumni associations,” said Meredith Weber, senior associate director of communications and membership at the UK Alumni Association. “Many schools have already made a membership model change, and others are seriously considering it. The time is right for the UK Alumni Association to evolve and position itself to better serve Wildcats of all generations.”

The UK Alumni Association is and will remain a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Revenue formerly received from the one- and three-year membership programs has been committed through internal budgetary sources provided by the university.

“(UK) President (Eli) Capilouto and his administration recognize the value of effective alumni engagement and its impact on the university,” said Mike Richey, UK vice president for philanthropy. “They are committed to supporting the mission of the UK Alumni Association.” 

For more information and a complete list of benefits for UK Alumni Association members, visit www.ukalumni.net/newmembershipmodel.

The UK Alumni Association is committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association, visit www.ukalumni.net or call 800-269-2586.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for,”  and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for three straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.