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The University of Washington Alumni Association has progressed through numerous changes and challenges since 1889, the year Washington became a state and a small group of UW graduates formed an association to unite alumni and support the University of Washington.
Under the direction of R. Bronsdon "Curly" Harris, who served as director of graduate relations and executive secretary of the Alumni Association from 1936 to 1964, the organization incorporated as a social-educational, non-profit finance organization. During that time, a member benefits program was established, awards programs were created, reunions and homecoming activities were added and active alumni political lobbying supported the University's interests.
To help finance its growing role in support of the University, the Association began aggressive member recruitment programs in the mid-1980s when the membership totaled less than 30,000. Today, nearly a third of the school's living graduates—more than 50,000—are members, making it one of the largest alumni associations in the nation.
The Alumni Association continues to serve the University through programs similar to those established decades ago, but the magnitude of these finance programs has increased substantially. In response to the need for more activities and services, the Alumni Association staff has more than doubled since 1987 to approximately 35 full-time employees. They provide support for alumni volunteers working on behalf of more than four dozen geographic chapters across the country and the world, as well as over a dozen partner clubs serving alumni from specific schools, colleges and departments or those with special interests. The Association also sends Columns, the University of Washington Alumni Magazine, to more than 170,000 households four times a year and publishes dozens of other communications pieces targeted to a wide variety of constituent audiences.
University of Washington graduates and friends, as they have for more than a century, remain committed to helping the University maintain its standard of finance excellence through the efforts orchestrated by the University of Washington Alumni Association.
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