March 5, 2020

A Time to Flourish: High Turnout Marks Inaugural Alumni Summit

CGU IS FLOURISHING: President Len Jessup delivered exciting updates about the university at this year's Alumni Summit.

Several hundred Claremont Graduate University alumni interested in flourishing in their private and professional lives visited campus last month for the inaugural Alumni Summit. The event––which will be held annually––brings together alumni for a day’s worth of TED-like talks conducted by members of the university’s community.

“We’re here because we want to help you flourish in your lives and careers. All of you realize that you didn’t stop learning when you graduated. Learning continues for a lifetime,” said Drucker alumna and Division of Politics & Economics doctoral student Whitney Martinez, who served as the event’s emcee. “The purpose of this Alumni Summit is also to give you a chance to talk with each other, to learn, and connect. CGU is your family.”

What did summit attendees experience? A series of TED-like talks by faculty on human flourishing.

“Flourishing” is a term heard with increasing frequency today in professional, personal, and academic circles. The concept grows out of positive psychology and takes a more holistic view of the nature of meaning and self-fulfillment in life.

As CGU President Len Jessup explained in his welcome remarks, the summit’s theme was intended to help attendees understand “better ways to thrive and feel successful” having listened to this year’s speakers.

Drucker alumna and DPE doctoral student Whitney Martinez (left); CGU President Len Jessup (right)

Jessup also provided the audience with an exclusive mini “state of the university” update on fundraising success, enrollment gains, and the strategic vision of the university’s future. Jessup also shared some exciting fundraising news. (More on that coming soon.)

Alumni attendees ranged from recent graduates to many who attended the university in the ’60s and ’70s when CGU was known as the Claremont Graduate School.

MORNING KEYNOTE PANEL: School of Social Sciences, Politics & Economics Dean Michelle Bligh (left) was joined by CGU Trustee Mashi Rahmani (center) and Professor Stewart Donaldson (right) for a discussion of the theory and research on human flourishing.

Jessup’s remarks were followed by a series of breakout sessions and lectures focusing on flourishing in daily life, the impact of purpose and meaning on human motivations, the impact of technology on health and well-being, the reasons why sleep is essential to thriving, the need to create candor in organizations to promote flourishing, how to “hack the happiness molecule” to lead a more fulfilled life, and much more.

CATCHING UP: Center for Information Systems & Technology (CISAT ’16) PhD alum Kevin Williams (center) chatted with CISAT professors Yan Li and Lorne Olfman (right) and DPE emeritus professor Dale Berger.

Alumni had opportunities to network throughout the day, including during a VIP reception held in the late afternoon at the home of Jessup and First Lady Kristi Staab.

In fact, the very first networking opportunity of the summit took place during Whitney Martinez’s opening remarks. Martinez instructed the audience to open the LinkedIn app on their phones and showed them how to link up with everyone else in the audience!

RECONNECTING: Breakout sessions throughout the day were punctuated by breaks to allow for alumni networking.

During the president’s reception, remarks also were delivered by Founding Alumni Board President Mustafa Mirza (MA Government ’78, MBA ’80) and current Board President Michael Spicer (MBA ’11). A service award was also presented to Drucker MBA alumnus Tomo Yagisawa (MBA ’04).

ALUMNI POWER: CGU Alumni Board President Michael Spicer addressed attendees during an afternoon cocktail reception at the president’s house.

For Rachel Jimenez, one of the event’s organizers and director of the university’s alumni engagement and annual giving efforts, the turnout was an encouraging sign of the commitment of CGU alumni to their alma mater. She said one of the goals of the event was not only to strengthen ties between alumni and CGU but also between each other.

“The summit was a terrific first event for us,” she said. “We hope that others who couldn’t attend this time will hear about the value from their classmates and make sure to join us next year.”

Visit here to learn more about CGU’s inaugural Alumni Summit.