Guest Column: Be Present

As our alumni community grows, staying connected becomes even more important.
By Ayanna McConnell


Read time: 2 minutes
Ayanna (far left) takes a selfie with graduating LEAD Scholars, some of which are wearing graduation caps and stoles, on Ingalls Mall.
Ayanna McConnell, acting president and CEO of the Alumni Association, celebrates with graduating LEAD Scholars. Photo by Jeremy Carroll.

Summer at the University of Michigan is a special time. We are on the heels of celebrating the class of 2023 as they expand our alumni family to more than 667,000, and on the horizon of welcoming new Wolverines to all three campuses this fall.

It is an honor to represent the Alumni Association as acting president and CEO. I have been serving in that role since March 16 when Corie Pauling, ’93, resigned. She made the difficult decision to leave the Association to stay in North Carolina to focus on her family and take on a new career opportunity. We appreciate Corie’s hard work and visionary initiatives, and the continued support of our Board of Directors who have begun the search for a permanent replacement.

In the meantime, the Alumni Association is charging forward with exciting plans in the months ahead. Among our proudest: We will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of the first cohort of LEAD Scholars coming to U-M when the fall term begins. We will take a closer look into the history of the program, its alums, and what the future holds for LEAD Scholars in the fall issue of the Alum.

In this issue of the magazine, we explore three important topics: artificial intelligence, fertility, and name, image, and likeness (NIL) for student-athletes. These feature stories carry our strong tradition of covering consequential and timely topics.

We take a deep dive into ChatGPT and its impact on our campus community. Senior writer Katie Frankhart introduces you to two amazing alums doing meaningful work in the field of fertility. And lastly, we highlight how NIL rules for student-athletes aren’t just benefiting star football players.

We deeply appreciate your dedication to the Alumni Association by being a member. If you like stories like these, tell a fellow Wolverine and encourage them to join us as well.

In two decades of working in higher education, one sentiment remains the same with graduates — life at U-M goes by in a blink! As alumni, you eventually learn this doesn’t change after graduation. As we move and adjust to transitions, we can take people, places, and things we treasure for granted. For this reason, the words of Spring Commencement speaker Wynton Marsalis, HDMUS’23, ring true more than ever: “Your ecosystem requires your presence… be present, ya’ll.”

As always, Go Blue!

Ayanna McConnell is the acting president and CEO of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. 

Become a Member Today!

Your membership dollars allow us to tell stories that celebrate U-M alums’ achievements and their impact in the world. Support this work and get access to all Michigan Alum articles by joining today.

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using this site, you accept our use of cookies.