This YaleGALE trip was particularly ambitious. We visited 4 cities in 4 different countries which employed two different currencies and two different languages. Our travel agency consultants were particularly challenged, especially with long distance transport between venues for such a small group on a hectic schedule. We held three conferences, had an intensive consulting session for half a day, held internal training for a day, and participated in 9 dinner/reception exchanges – all in 10 days. Listing it is enough to become exhausted. However, experiencing the enthusiasm of the people we met was invigorating.

The outside of the Gauss Observatory in Göttngen

The trip began on Wednesday, May 7 in Göttingen, Germany. That evening, through the good offices of the University of Göttingen and Bernhard Hackstette, the University’s Head of Alumni Relations and Director of the Alumni Society, YaleGALE participants were invited to join supporters for a preview and reception for the International Handel Festival in the University’s Gauss Observatory. The Festival is held every year in Göttingen in May. It included a harpsichord performance by Laurence Cummings, the Festival’s artistic director, plus 3 arias from the upcoming performance of Handel’s opera Faramundo, by soloists including Njål Sparbo and Christopher Lowrey. The event was a delightful introduction to the space where YaleGALE would be producing its conference on the upcoming Friday.

President of Göttngen University, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Beisiegel, Ben Slotznick, a photograph of Rhoda Erdmann, and Dr. Cornelius Bachmann, at the Rhoda Erdmann Reception in Göttngen

On Thursday, May 8, after a day of work preparing and training for the conference, YaleGALE was given a tour of the Historical library in the Paulinerkirche, by Dr. Heinz Fuchs, Librarian and Technical officer at the State and University Libraries. This was a unique opportunity to see some colonial documents from Native American tribes. In the evening, YaleGALE attended a reception in the University’s Little Aula and Hall of Kings. The reception was sponsored by Dr. Cornelius Bachmann, Göttingen faculty and alumnus, in honor of his great grand-aunt, Rhoda Erdmann. Ms. Erdmann was one of the first women research fellows in Yale’s Graduate School of Biology. The President of Göttingen University, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Beisiegel (herself a biochemist), addressed the group. An elegant dinner hosted by the Gottingen alumni association at Gauss Restaurant followed the reception.

Several dozen people seated, in the Gauss Observatory, listening to a panel discussion at the Göttngen Alumni Leadership Forum

On Friday, May 9, YaleGALE produced the Göttingen Global Alumni Leadership Forum sponsored by the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. This three-quarter day forum was designed as a pre-conference event to the annual conference being held at Göttingen University that weekend and beginning later in the afternoon. There were 90 attendees, coming from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom – over half of those registered for the conference itself. The Forum was held at the Gauss Observatory, which was originally built to lure the renowned Carl Friedrich Gauss to Göttingen, and has been lovingly restored.

A discussion session at the Gauss Observatory at the Göttngen Alumni Leadership Forum

Welcoming remarks were delivered by Kathy Edersheim ’87, Senior Director of the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) and Chair of YaleGALE, Christian Kramberg, Chairman of, and Bernhard Hackstette. Ben Slotznick ’70, Dra ’73, Producer of YaleGALE in Europe presented an introduction to alumni relations at Yale. The morning program included two sets of breakout sessions on the topics of Regional Associations, Volunteer Engagement, Mentoring and Internships, Reunions, Leadership Cultivation, and Affinity Groups. Afterwards, lunch was served next door at Restaurant Planea.

Members of the audience at the Big Debate, laughing.

The afternoon session focused on Social Media. It was introduced by a light-hearted English style debate on the proposition: “Resolved that the Internet and Social Media render Alumni Associations Obsolete.” The proponent was Kristina Anders, Alumni Relations Manager at Coventry University (UK); the opposition, Ben Slotznick ’70, Dra ’73. A lively discussion ensued, after which the Forum concluded. For the proceedings and information packet, click here.

President of Göttngen University, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Beisiegel, addressing the plenary of the conference, Mark Dollhopf and Christian Kramberg seated in first row

Later Friday afternoon, the plenary meeting of the conference was held in the Paulinerkirche (an historic church, currently the home of the University’s rare book library). President Ulrike Beisiegel welcomed the attendees, after which Christian Kramberg, Chairman of, spoke. Mark Dollhopf ’77, Executive Director of the AYA, gave the keynote address. In the evening, YaleGALE attended the annual dinner of, during which awards were given to outstanding alumni relations programs.

A view of Vondelpark in Amsterdam along with nearby residential buildings

On Sunday, May 11, the YaleGALE group traveled to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. YaleGALE and members of the local Yale Club attended a reception in Amsterdam at the home of the U.S. Consul General Randy Berry, overlooking Vondelpark. The Consul General had been instrumental in facilitating and sponsoring the YaleGALE events to be held the next day at the University of Amsterdam.

Plenary session of the YaleGALE Alumni Leadership Forum at the Agnietenkapel in Amsterdam

Monday, May 12 was the most intense day of the trip. It started with a full-day Yale Global Alumni Leadership Forum at the Agnietenkapel, the original seat of the University of Amsterdam. The Forum was produced by YaleGALE and sponsored by YaleGALE, the University of Amsterdam, the Netherland-American Foundation and the United States Embassy. There were over 60 participants representing over 20 institutions.

A breakout session with Paul Broholm and Bill McGurn at the Agnietenkapel in Amsterdam with about a dozen people

The Forum opened with welcoming remarks by Carolyn E. Wever, Director, Development & Alumni Relations, University of Amsterdam. YaleGALE was joined for the Forum by some local Yale alumni, including Paul Broholm ’78, President of the Yale Club of the Netherlands, Ruth Oldenziel ’92 PhD, Richard Golden ’83, Arjen Cuperus ’81 STM, and Karah van Gelder ’80 plus William B. McGurn, III, ’65, President of the Yale Club of Italy. Many thanks to Paul Broholm for co-producing the Amsterdam portion of this trip.

A breakout session at the Agnietenkapel in Amsterdam with Vin Sharkey, Kahty Edersheim and about a dozen people

The full-day agenda of the Forum allowed for additional breakouts sessions on service programs, for summaries of all breakout sessions to be reported in plenary, and for additional plenary sessions on fundraising versus friend-raising and developing a culture of giving. Some panel discussions were given twice to accommodate the crowd. In the afternoon, the proponent for the Big Debate on Social Media was Lea Dyer, an alumna of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and a social media developer for alumni programs for UvA. For the proceedings and information packet pertaining to this Forum, click here.

Discussions at the Presidents Dinner at the Academic Club in Amsterdam

In the evening, a working dinner for Presidents and Provosts of Dutch Universities and their top alumni relations officers was held at the UvA Academic Club. The purpose was to discuss alumni relations and fundraising. Dr. Louise Gunning-Schepers, President of the University of Amsterdam distributed the invitation to leading universities throughout the Netherlands and the diplomatic community. The dinner was organized by UvA and YaleGALE in cooperation with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). President Gunning welcomed the guests. Paul Broholm ’78, introduced a short video from Yale President Peter Salovey ’86 PhD, extending greetings from Yale and offering remarks on alumni relations. Between courses, John Lippincott, President of CASE, spoke, along with Kathy Edersheim ’87.

Kathy Edersheim, U.S. Ambassador Timothy Broas, Dr. Louise Gunning-Schepers, President of the University of Amsterdam, and Ben Slotznick at the Presidents Dinner at the Academic Club

Other attendees included U.S. Ambassador Timothy Broas, U.S. Consul General Randy Berry, Wellem Korthals Altes, President of the Alumni Association of the University of Amsterdam, Henk van der Meulen, President of the Royal Conservaatorium, Marjan Oudeman, Chairman of the University of Utrecht, Luc Soete, Rector Magnifcus Maastricht University, Caroline Tempel, Ministry of Education, Delia de Vreeze, Director of Alumni Relations of the University of Wageningen, Kate Hunter, Head of CASE Europe, and Carolyn E. Wever.

A robot at the Autonomous Systems Lab, at ETH Zurich

By Wednesday, May 14, the YaleGALE delegation was in Zurich, Switzerland, where they were joined by Sam Carmalt ’66, President of the Yale Club of Switzerland. They were taken for a tour of the Autonomous Systems Lab, a robotics lab, at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zurich), followed by a tour of the main building, and lunch at the Dozentenfoyer (Faculty Club). At the Dozentenfoyer, the YaleGALE group was joined by Nicole Frick, Managing Director of the ETH Zurich Alumni Association, and Peter Brunner, immediate past Managing Director.

Ben Slotznick, Kathy Edershiem, Sandra Emanuel, and Sibylle Ambuhl at a round table discussion at the University of Zurich

A task force consisting of (Kathy Edersheim ’87, Ben Slotznick ’70, Dra ’73, and Stuart Cohen ’70) then met with members of the University of Zurich alumni relations team, including Sandra Emanuel, Director at the Alumni Association of the University of Zürich (UZH), Sibylle Ambühl, Manager at Alumni Economists of UZH, and Veronika Sharonova, an alumni volunteer and board member of Alumni Economists of UZH and Nicole Frick. Veronika Sharonova arranged this meeting after having attended the Gottingen Global Alumni Leadership Forum the previous week.

YaleGALE participants along with members of the Oxford Cambridge Club of Zurich in a cruise boat on Lake Zurich

That evening, YaleGALE had dinner with members of the Yale Club of Switzerland at Hiltl Restaurant, the world’s oldest continuously operated vegetarian restaurant. The next night on Thursday, May 14, YaleGALE met with members of the Oxford and Cambridge Club of Zurich as well as some members of the Yale Club of Switzerland, including Geoff Klein ’96, Vice President of the Club, for a cruise of Lake Zurich. Thanks to Dr. Rebekka Greminger, President of the Oxbridge Club for making the arrangements.

A discussion at the University of Liechtenstein, among YaleGALE participants, students, alumni, and staff of the University

On Friday afternoon, May 16, YaleGALE produced a Yale Global Alumni Leadership Forum at the University of Liechtenstein. The University has faculties of business and architecture. After meeting with Klaus Näscher, Rector of the University, the Forum began with welcoming remarks from Michael Hanke, Vice-Rector for Teaching and Learning. An overview and Forum breakout sessions were similar in content to the ones at Göttingen, with plenary sessions similar to those of Amsterdam. However, instead of a debate on social media, the Forum concluded with a discussion on the influence of architecture in university life, facilitated by Lynn Johnson ’61 and joined by Prof. Peter Staub of the University of Liechtenstein. For the proceedings and information packet pertaining to this Forum, click here.

Dinner discussion at Restaurant Kainer in Liechtenstein, among students, alumni, and professors of the University and YaleGALE participants

After the Forum YaleGALE members were given a private audience with Thomas Zwiefelhofer, Deputy Prime Minister of Liechtenstein. He discussed the country’s diverse economy and its continuing support for higher education. This audience was followed by a dinner with faculty and alumni of the University of Liechtenstein, at Restaurant Kainer halfway up the Austrian Alps, providing a spectacular view of the Rhine valley and a memorable ending to the Forum.

Vaduz Schloss (Vaduz Castle) in Liechtenstein with Alps in the background