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Dear Alumnus/a,

As the Dean of American University's College of Arts and Sciences, I am writing to invite you to reconnect with your alma mater. AU has won national attention as the most "politically active" university in the nation and continues to be widely perceived as a premier institution for public affairs and international relations. We have long lived up to our mission of promoting a global outlook, practical idealism, and a passion for public service. Those values are imbued in every aspect of our teaching, research, and community. But I am writing you today to tell you that AU is still as a great place for the liberal arts and to ask your help in getting that good word out.

This is an especially exciting time for AU, and alumni and alumnae are a critical part of our success today. The university has embarked on an ambitious course to enhance the research opportunities available to our undergraduate and graduate students, who have responded by earning national and international recognition on an unprecedented scale. The caliber of student applying to AU (already pretty great when you were here!) continues to improve each year. There were a record 18,754 applicants for the 1,550 spots in this year's freshman class. For next fall, our early decision applications have increased by more than 50 percent, which means that AU is fast becoming the first choice of the majority of our prospective students.

As you know, the College of Arts and Sciences has always played a critical role in the lives of all of AU's undergraduates, regardless of their major. We are deeply committed to the core principles of liberal education: promoting free and rational discourse; fostering an understanding of the diversity of human experience; providing the intellectual skills necessary to navigate a rapidly changing world; and integrating knowledge across disciplinary boundaries.

Within the College, we have enhanced our faculty by recruiting new colleagues—both junior and senior—from the very best universities, graduate programs, and post-docs. In the past twelve months, my colleagues have won election to the American Academy of the Sciences, been named members of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, and won grants or fellowships from such prestigious sources as the NIH, NSF, ACLS, NEH, and NASA. We launched our new bachelor's in public health this fall and are on track to add an innovative 3-year degree in that field in 2012, with a 3-year degree in neuroscience to follow. 

Our students continue to compete at the highest level, winning major fellowships and competitions in nearly every field of study. And yet our students and faculty remain utterly true to AU's historic commitment to service, to communities in the District of Columbia and around the world. In short, the ideals of scholarship, teaching, and service are stronger than ever here in the College of Arts and Sciences!

Sustain the Liberal Arts at American University
You are an important part of our proud past. Please consider being part of the College's future by making a gift to sustain the liberal arts at AU. Gifts from alumni are the lifeblood of any academic institution. Tuition and fees account for approximately 85% of our university's operating revenue. A good deal of what remains is provided by charitable contributions, grants, contracts, and income from the endowment. Modest gifts from hundreds of alumni ultimately make a profound impact on our operating budget, providing the flexibility to explore unanticipated opportunities and closing the gap on unmet needs.

As a student, your success was in part made possible by the thousands of generous alumni who pledged their financial support. I ask you to carry on the tradition and help future generations of students by making a gift at whatever level is comfortable for you. Every gift matters.

In addition to providing a secure, financial foundation for the university, your participation as a donor sends a strong message of confidence in an American University education. The number of alumni making a contribution to their alma mater is actually used as a criterion in ranking undergraduate programs in most college guides. Indeed, for better or worse, the rate of alumni donor participation accounts for a full five percent of the overall assessment in US News and World Report.

Why Would Alumni Giving Matter to College Rankings?
Alumni have a unique perspective on the quality of their educations. As their professional lives unfold, important elements of their educations become more recognizable—leadership skills, critical thinking, appreciation of diverse points of view, and the ability to synthesize knowledge from a variety of disciplines and sources, to name just a few.

As an alumnus/a, your gift says a lot about what you think of your alma mater. It says:

  • I value my time spent at American University
  • I continue to realize and reap the benefits of my liberal arts education
  • I believe in the mission of AU today
  • I want to make an AU education possible for future generations

All of these, of course, are also deeply compelling reasons for a prospective student to chose AU.

As Dean of the College, I feel very privileged to be at AU at such an exciting and pivotal time in its history. AU is a rising star, continually setting new levels of excellence with each passing year. Alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences constitute the majority of alumni at AU. To help me further our upward climb, I would be grateful if you could share with me what AU was like when you were here and what are your perceptions of AU today. I welcome your feedback and would love to hear your AU story!

Your involvement—whether in the form of a gift, feedback, or both—will help ensure our continued success. I look forward to hearing from you! If you have already made a gift, please accept my heartfelt thanks!

Cordially yours,

Peter Starr

Peter Starr
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences 

To read more about the fund-raising priorities of the College, click here.

To make a gift to the College of Arts & Sciences, click here

To share your feedback with me please e-mail:

See more about Dean Peter Starr.