Annual awards have been established to acknowledge alumni relations professionals and alumni programs that put forth best efforts and practices while contributing to the advancement of the industry. Awards are presented during a program at the annual conference in July. It’s a time to be recognized for dedication, hard work, and service to alumni.

Learn more about ABSAP’s awards and the nomination process.

Award Winners

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2017 ABSAP Award Winners


Most Improved Alumni Relations Initiative
Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder
“Alumni eNews Renovation”
Formerly, this school’s e-newsletter was sent quarterly and was antiquated, word-heavy and not mobile friendly. In the fall of 2016, the alumni e-newsletter went through a huge renovation, including improved content, design and a new layout. These updates were driven by what alumni wanted to hear and see. The updated e-newsletter launched monthly in January 2017. Many changes were implemented that resulted in significant increases in open rates. They use the alumni spotlight each month as an opportunity to either engage alumni who have not previously been engaged or steward alumni to celebrate their involvement with the school. They have seen open rates increase almost 5%, with a current open rate of almost 23% for 2017.



Outstanding Partnership Award
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University
“Reunion Gift Campaign”
For the 2017 All-Class Reunion, alumni celebrating their 1st-35th reunions achieved a 24% increase in giving from July 1, 2016 - May 30, 2017 over the prior fiscal/reunion year. This significant increase was achieved through partnerships between the Alumni Relations and Annual Giving teams, along with the central University Annual Giving office. Through the use of innovative tools and resources, each team introduced new ways to create the most proactive Reunion Giving campaign to date. Together, they facilitated meaningful connections between classmates through a multi-channel, peer-to-peer based strategy including using Class Giving Challenges, Online Crowdfunding-style Pages, Class Leadership, Resources, and Recognition, and Alumni Giving via Reunion Registration.



Most Innovative New Initiative
Smith School of Business, University of Maryland
“Management in a Minute”
Management in a Minute is a video series featuring impressive alumni sharing insights and advice on how to be successful in business. The minute-long videos offer useful nuggets of practical advice and thoughtful discussion from C-level executives. This video series is innovative in how it provides value to both the school and the alumni. Management in a Minute has proven to be a great success. Many of the alumni were previously not engaged with the school, so this video series has become a great entry point. Alumni participants have gone on to become volunteers in other programs or helped establish a stronger recruiting relationship between their company and the school, and a few are involved in discussions about philanthropy.



Outstanding New Professional
Sarah Bivens, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
Assistant Director of Communications, Alumni Relations
Since joining the team in July 2016, Sarah has exemplified professionalism, intuitiveness, and excellent communication skills, and she has consistently exceeded the expectations of the department. Sarah consistently conducts herself with professionalism and is a pleasure to work with. She is an invaluable addition to the alumni relations communications team and has played a key role in improvements to alumni communication efforts.



Outstanding Service to ABSAP
Tracy McCabe, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
ABSAP Advisory Council Chair, 2014-16
Tracy is concluding six years of service on the ABSAP Advisory Council including two years as council chair from 2014 to 2016. Tracy’s commitment to ABSAP has been long-lasting and his efforts to see growth in the organization are evident through the establishment of ABSAP as a non-profit corporation and the development of a formal webinar series. As a council member, Tracy’s leadership and willingness to innovate have been key to the organization’s success and growth. In addition to his service on the council, Tracy has supported the organization as a conference presenter and by highlighting members of his team at Booth. 

2016 ABSAP Award Winners


Most Improved Alumni Relations Initiative Award
McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin
“40 Hours for 40 Acres” Campaign
This annual giving campaign started in 2014 with the goal to inspire alumni to give back to the school during 40 hours in April. In 2015, the campaign raised $17,609 from 399 alumni. In 2016 changes were made that included a branded, mobile-responsive web page with live giving updates, and heavy social media and volunteer engagement strategies. The Alumni Relations team collaborated with students to schedule the legacy student campaigns to coincide with the campaign. At the end of the 40 hours, they raised $91,913 from 589 alumni, which was a 422 percent increase in gifts and a 48 percent increase in the number of donors over the previous year.



Most Innovative New Initiative Award
McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin
“Texas 12 Dinners” Program
This program brings together 12 strangers for dinner where alumni have an opportunity to meet fellow graduates they would not otherwise meet. The Alumni Relations team personalized the format of the first three events to best serve different alumni affinities. They secured hosts for the dinners at faculty members' and alumni homes. They also had a different theme for each dinner. This new initiative succeeded in that it 1) connected alumni who would not otherwise meet each other, thus expanding their personal and professional networks, 2) helped alumni to view the school as a valuable resource for fostering connections, 3) expanded the career network of students and alumni, and 4) provided an industry connection for a faculty member.



Outstanding Partnership Award
Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University
“Change of Location” Project
The Alumni Relations Office, along with the Alumni Society Board, decided to take action and provide assistance to "change of location" transfer students by partnering with the Career Office. With so many diverse aspects of this demographic, it was vital to develop a portfolio of projects in order to launch this collaborative effort. In turn, these projects have created exciting engagement opportunities for alumni. Together the teams have been able to see significant progress in Change of Location initiatives in the past year alone, and they are confident that our continued collaborations will lead to results that we could not achieve independently.



Outstanding New Professional Award
Sandy Gelinas, Stern School of Business, New York University
Associate Director, Alumni Relations
Since joining her school’s team last summer, Sandy has made an exceptional impact across so many facets. She was quick to take on a tremendously challenging but important portfolio of work, and has made such a difference in the last 12 months across all aspects of this portfolio. Sandy fits the bill when thinking of an "ideal teammate." She is always willing to jump in and help on a project, offer her thoughts or insight from past programs, or simply brainstorm a sticky situation. Not only is she impressive in the volume of work she accomplishes, but Sandy's quality of work is just as striking.

2015 ABSAP Award Winners


Most Improved Alumni Relations Initiative Award 
Ross School of Business, University of Michigan



Most Innovative New Initiative Award
Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame



Outstanding Partnership Award
George Washington University School of Business



Outstanding New Professional Award
Jennifer Mihalek, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago



Outstanding Service to ABSAP Award
John Sengenberger, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University


2014 ABSAP Award Winners


Most Improved Alumni Relations Initiative Award
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University
for their Reunion Weekend



Outstanding Partnership Award
George Washington University School of Business
for their Capitol Advertising Program



Outstanding New Professional Award
Adrienne Jaroch, Goizueta Business School, Emory University



Outstanding Service to ABSAP Award
Janice Headley, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

2013 ABSAP Award Winners


Most Improved Alumni Relations Initiative Award
Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine
for New Graduate Engagement Program



Most Innovative Initiative Award
George Washington University School of Business
for Volunteer Stewardship Letter Process



Outstanding Partnership Award
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University
for Tepper Alumni Magazine App



Outstanding New Professional Award
Megan Rasmussen, Foster School of Business, University of Washington



Outstanding Service to ABSAP Award
Leslie Mille, College of Business, Florida State University

2012 ABSAP Award Winners (Inaugural)


Most Improved Alumni Relations Initiative Award
Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
for Industry Connections Event



Most Innovative Initiative Award
Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
for Future Alumni Leaders Banquet



Outstanding New Professional Award (Co-Recipients)
Meghan Bollens, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University
Mike Schmeckebier, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University