As UMBC prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016, the university is creating a grassroots effort to spur alumni engagement and pride. A bold motto – “We Need Hundreds of You to Reach Thousands of Us” – sums up the aims of the initiative: Recruit a dedicated band of Retrievers to spread word of the celebration to almost 70,000 fellow UMBC alumni.

UMBC Magazine asked three alumni leaders involved in the “Hundreds” campaign – UMBC Alumni Board of Directors member Zozscha Bomhardt ’93, mechanical engineering, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Planning Yvette Mozie-Ross ’88, health science and policy, and Vice President of Institutional Advancement Greg Simmons ’04, MPP – to talk about their commitment to the effort.

What’s got you most excited about UMBC’s 50th anniversary in 2016?

Greg Simmons: For me what’s exciting is that the anniversary represents a moment in time for us to showcase – and more fully recognize – the contributions that the UMBC community makes to Maryland and to the nation. It’s the chance to articulate not just how that community has been an important part of our past, but how it’s a part of what we are going to do next. UMBC is going to be a vital part of how we are going to solve problems, change lives, address urgent social issues, and improve our communities. We prepare people for meaningful, well-led lives. It’s a moment when we are going to be able to celebrate all that we have accomplished together in a way that we’ve not been able to do before. We’ll also help everybody look together with a common vision toward a really exciting future.

Yvette Mozie-Ross: What’s exciting me most is how we are going to be able to feature the transformation that has taken place at UMBC. It’s an opportunity to highlight the change and the progress that has happened over the years. Not so much change in terms of who we are as a university, but the changes on the campus itself. We’re still the intimate and personable campus that we’ve always been, but in terms of the infrastructure and the course offerings there has been a lot of change. We’ve done so much in such a short period of time, and when people come back they are surprised – and totally amazed.

Zozscha Bomhardt: What I’m most excited about are the events. There is a common thread of our connection to UMBC as alumni, students, faculty, and staff, and events will be the thing that takes that thread and brings us all together to celebrate. I’m especially excited that we will be celebrating the common thread of the diversity of the students who have studied on our campus. That diversity is definitely what first attracted me to the school and part of why I stay involved.

How are alumni going to make this anniversary a success?

Bomhardt: By being involved! Be involved with the events that you’re excited about. That’s really the driving force behind this. I’m also really excited by the face time I’m going to have with fellow alumni. You’ll have that time if you’re hosting an event, or even taking tickets.

Mozie-Ross: Alumni can really help us tell the story. Each one of our alumni has a unique story. Experiences they had along the way. And those stories are treasured moments. I know that others will find those stories interesting – and learn a lot from those stories.

Simmons: There are so many different ways that alumni can see themselves in this work. For some people, it will be roll up your sleeves and participate in event development or community building. Getting involved in alumni volunteer board activity. Making major substantive gifts to the campus to help us achieve our goals. For some people it will be hiring UMBC students as interns or mentoring. It can also be as easy as changing your resume so it says “UMBC” and not “University of Maryland,” or putting that UMBC mug on your desk. Showing that you’re a UMBC grad in ways large and small to let people know we’re everywhere and we’re making a difference.

(Read more about the “Hundreds” campaign and how you can get involved in Gathering the Pack)

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