Student Alumni Association ranks top in nation

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

The U Student Alumni Association must really be “up to snuff,” as the Utah fight song says, ranking this year as one of the top three organizations of its kind in the country.

The Association of Student Advancement Programs, a networking group comprised of more than 300 colleges and universities, recognized the U group as an “outstanding organization of the year,” with programs and events such as the MUSS, the Rivalry Week food drive and the Spring House Party leading the way in student alumni associations nationwide.

The association’s adviser, John Fackler, was named an “outstanding adviser of the year.”

“Our programs stand out above everyone else’s,” said SAA President Graham Anderson. “The MUSS blows pretty much everyone out of the water — no one has a structure like ours.”

Although Anderson said it’s an “embarrassment” to that the U shared the award with rival schools Brigham Young University and Utah State University, there was no distinction between the schools.

Fackler said it was just a coincidence that the award went to three Utah schools.

To get the award, schools nominate themselves and a board determines finalists. The U was up against about 60 other schools for the “outstanding organization” award.

“We’re in there with Florida, UCLA, Ohio State — some pretty hefty schools,” Anderson said.

The association was honored at an ASAP conference in August held at Ohio State University, where they gave an hour-long presentation on the MUSS in front of other schools. Next year’s conference will be held at the U.

The MUSS program was honored for top organization and management in 2005 by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, a broader sector of the ASAP.

Since the MUSS began in 2002, the fan group has grown from 800 to almost 4,500 members, although membership dropped by about 200 students this year.

Anderson said standout SAA programs, such as the Rivalry Week food drive competition between the U and BYU, the Spring House Party at the Alumni House and the Founder’s Day event led to the award.

The House Party is held prior to graduation every year to attract seniors to sign up for free Alumni Association memberships. Founder’s Day is an awards night held at the beginning of the Spring Semester put on by the Alumni Association honoring former graduates and people who have contributed to the U.

Last year, the U raised $30,000 in the food drive contest and collected 25,000 lbs. of food.

“We killed BYU in money and they killed us in food,” Anderson said.

Although the award did not come with any monetary prize, Fackler said it is a noteworthy accomplishment.

“My students made me look good,” Fackler said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with great students and great leaders and be able to push projects forward.”

This week, the association has played an active role in homecoming activities. They will host two pep rallies Friday night the first will be at 8 p.m. at the west parking lot, which will be televised on the mtn. network and the second will happen around 8:30 p.m. as part of Crimson Nights. A 5K run to earn money for Young Alumni Association scholarships will happen Saturday morning.

More information about homecoming events can be found at www.alumni.utah.edu/homecoming.

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The U Alumni Association ranked this year as one of the top three organizations of its kind in the country.