The brainchild of the Chancellor's Challenge 175 (CC175) campaign, the call centre gives alumni the opportunity to speak directly with a current student to find out what's happening on campus and how student life has changed over the years.
In addition, the students are able to verify alumni contact details and inform them of the campaign, which aims to raise R175-million over five years.
As part of the campaign's 2004 roll-out strategy, approximately
According to Brehndan Botha, relations and fundraising manager, the call centre was set up to facilitate a follow-up to this initial contact.
"We needed a medium whereby we could follow up on the post and e-mail contact and at the same time allow for direct, one-on-one contact with our alumni. The feedback we receive from the call centre also gives us a sense of how alumni view their relationship with the university and their faculties."
CC175 relations manager Rhona Nieuwoudt says the call centre is based on similar US university systems.
"The American ethos is very much a giving culture, while South Africa still has a long way to go in this regard," she explained. "Besides the UCT fundraising aspect, the call centre is an attempt to create an individual philanthropic mindset. We want to inform people that being an alumni is not just about a reunion or meeting the dean for drinks, it is about establishing a realistic link with the university and a responsibility to give back to the institution."
This is in line with Chancellor GraÃ§a Machel's vision that individuals become members of a UCT community that is "one in which members accept collective responsibility to ensure the world-class institution thrives, to the benefit of all the generations of students to come".
Half of every rand raised for the CC175 campaign will go towards the UCT undesignated endowment fund, securing financial stability for the university.
The other half of every rand raised will be put towards financial aid for needy students and will see a cohort of 175 students, called the Chancellor's Scholars, undertaking degrees in the various faculties. These scholars will receive the financial aid on condition they, in turn, become donors to the next generation of students - whatever the amount - when they have left UCT.
Securing adequate levels of funding to support financially and educationally disadvantaged students is one of the most critical issues facing higher education in South Africa.
But by making a contribution to the campaign, alumni are playing a pioneering role in making tertiary education accessible to all, while supporting UCT's efforts to transform the demographic profile of the university's student population. It also aids the growth of the pool of qualified professionals corporate South Africa requires to meet its own equity targets.
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