ANNUAL REPORT  •  FY 2020-2021

Gretchen VanValkenburg
Gretchen Signature

Grechen VanValkenburg ’86

Vice President for Alumni Affairs
Executive Director of the Auburn Alumni Association

Dear Auburn Family,

Oh, how good it is to be back together again!

In 2021, faculty, staff and students returned to campus and in-person gatherings resumed for the university as well as many of our Auburn Clubs and Affiliates. In addition to regular annual meetings, AMBUSH, with Football Coach Bryan Harsin and Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl, made stops in four cities.

As we transitioned into a new “normal,” the Auburn Alumni Association enjoyed a very productive and innovative year, hosting 522 events—both virtually and in person—and engaging more than 94,000 alumni and friends.

We launched our first Women’s Summit in March with more than 560 registrants. Held virtually, this was the first event–but it won’t be the last–of our women’s initiatives.

Our new Young Alumni Council supported two Social in the City events, one in Mobile, Ala. and one in Nashville, Tenn. Our Black Alumni Council established both an annual and endowed scholarship to honor Dr. Harold A. Franklin, Auburn’s first Black student.

We kept some of the virtual programs established during the pandemic, including the Track ’Em Tigers Virtual 5K, the 18:56 Speaker Series and AMBUSH at Home.

2021 was a banner year for the alumni association scholarship program. On Tiger Giving Day in February, Auburn alumni and friends contributed more than $29,000 in 24 hours to fully fund the Dr. Josetta Brittain Matthews Endowed Scholarship, in honor of Josetta B. Matthews ’66, the first Black graduate student to earn a degree at Auburn, as well as the first Black faculty member. The highlight of our year was a record 415 scholarships, at a value of $715,914, being awarded through the association’s endowment and Auburn Club scholarship program. Thank you for making both of these milestones possible!

While 2020 gave us a chance to slow down and reflect on how grateful we are for the Auburn Family, we are so happy to be back in action in 2021. I want to say thank you to each of you who continue to support us through your participation and giving.

War Eagle!


total number of living alumni: 248,093
gender distribution: 54% male, 46% female
Top five states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Texas
18% alumni engagement
50% of Auburn University Alumni have graduated since 2000
12.7% Alumni Participation Rate


As things began to reopen in 2021, the association returned to limited in-person events as well as offering virtual events. AMBUSH, featuring Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl and recently hired Football Coach Bryan Harsin, made stops in Pensacola, Birmingham, Nashville and Auburn, and AMBUSH at Home was again offered as a virtual option. The first Women’s Summit, the annual Club Leadership Conference and the 18:56 Speaker Series were presented virtually.

Clubs-and-Affiliates-badge graphic

A number of our 96 Auburn Clubs and 34 Affiliates hosted in-person events, including annual meetings, Freshmen Send-offs and football game watch parties, resulting in almost 14,000 alumni and friends participating in both live and online activities.

5K participants

Track ’em Tigers 5k had 2,113 participants worldwide.

club and affiliate leaders attended the virtual Club Leader Conference

62 clubs and affiliates represented

20 states

Graduates made reservations to celebrate graduation at a catered lunch or dinner with their friends and a families. GraduEATS was held at the Auburn Alumni Center on commencement days.

Auburn family and friends gathered at the Auburn Alumni Center prior to each home game, as well as at specified away game sites. The 2021 football season was the first year for The Huddle.

Golden Eagles Celebration Graphic

The virtual Golden Eagles reunion hosted 227 participants.

34 Freshmen Send off events were hosted

1,361 freshmen and parents engaged


In 2020-21, staying connected included an online Membership Appreciation Week with specials on upgrading membership, registering to receive an exclusive print (as shown on the right), answering ”The Big Question” for the fall issue of Auburn Magazine, trivia competition and Forever AU updates. Also this past year, The Prowl, a biweekly newsletter was introduced to contributing members.

The third annual Tiger Nation Challenge against the LSU Alumni Association resulted in $21,555 in memberships and contributions from 231 alumni and friends. The challenge is a week-long competition between the associations to see who can gain the most members and raise the most support for their university.

1,051 participants

380 new members

233 Auburn Magazine cover prints given away

322 Forever AU app logins


Even during the pandemic, our staff worked from home to publish Auburn Magazine on time each quarter. The Forever AU app and social media posts kept alumni and friends updated, engaged and connected to the university and the Auburn Family. Online programming created while the staff was working remotely has continued in addition to returning to in-person events.

more than


issues of the award-winning Auburn Magazine were mailed this fiscal year.

display of Auburn Magazines
Forever AU app

users, a 40% increase over 2019-2020

18:56 speaker series

17 shows

33,693 engaged

18:56 on computer

Facebook topped 50,000 followers for the first time


total social media touchpoints


Even on the heels of the pandemic, Auburn alumni and friends supported the association in a variety of ways. Through the efforts of initiatives such as the License to Learn car tag program, Tiger Giving Day, and Auburn Clubs and Affiliates scholarships, a total of $905,000 was generated to fund Auburn University student scholarships.

Josetta Matthews
Dr. Josetta Brittain Matthews ’66 Endowed Scholarship was established in 2020 to support Auburn University’s goal of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion among its student body, which is key to its educational mission.

Josetta Brittain Matthews was the first Black student to earn a degree from Auburn, earning a master’s degree in 1966 and a doctorate in 1975, both in education. She was also the first Black faculty member at the university, joining the College of Liberal Arts as a history instructor almost a decade after. In 2005, the Auburn University Board of Trustees awarded an honorary doctorate to Matthews.

Tiger Giving Day $35,330 donated

Since the inception of the Commemorative Medallion program in December 2015, over 3,000 donors have contributed nearly $70,000 with the top 3 allocations being Auburn University’s area of greatest need, the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business and the general scholarship fund. With a minimum gift of their graduation year (i.e. $20.21 for the Class of 2021), the graduate receives a keepsake medallion to wear at commencement.

Commemorative medallion
Greetings from Auburn postcard

Between October 2020 and September 2021, Auburn’s License to Learn program raised $3,621,855, a 6.72% increase over last fiscal year. For more than 13,300 donors, the vanity plate was their only gift in FY21 and 3,385 were first-time donors to Auburn University. The state of Florida also approved a tag, and billboards ran in four Florida cities advertising presales to alumni.


Honoring outstanding alumni, friends and faculty at Auburn University as well as being recognized for the association’s work are highlights of each year. In January 2021, the association won five awards at the District III CASE Awards Ceremony. Auburn Magazine won multiple awards and Black Alumni Weekend was recognized with a Silver for constituency engagement.

STEVEN BROWN Auburn Faculty member posing with his book he wrote

Auburn Alumni Professorship recipients, nominated by their deans and chosen by the provost, receive a monetary honorarium for five years. Three Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Awards are given to teachers who are nominated by students, alumni and colleagues to recognize their quality of teaching. The Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lectureship, jointly sponsored by the Auburn Alumni Association and the Auburn University Graduate School, is selected by the Graduate Faculty Council.

For the past 20 years, Auburn University has recognized members of the Auburn Family for extraordinary accomplishments, significant professional achievements or distinguished service to others. These awards are the highest honor bestowed by the association.

Cecil Stanford Harrell ’68

Cecil Stanford Harrell ’68

Raymond elliott loyd ’61

Raymond elliott loyd ’61

Brooks Moore ’48

Brooks Moore ’48

Allen Reed ’70

Allen Reed ’70

John Dykes ’05

John Dykes ’05


The Auburn Alumni Association continued to create inclusive programming. One of our most successful new initiatives was the first Women’s Summit, held virtually in 2021. The Black Alumni Council and the Young Alumni Council continued to create meaningful programs and events. Both councils were able to have their first face-to-face meetings since being established in 2020.


563 participants
$3,635 donations
74 donors

Black Alumni Council

15 council members
Grad years: 1977-2015
Schools/colleges represented: 8
States represented: 6

Young Alumni Council

30 council members
Grad years: 2003-2019
Schools/colleges represented: 6
States represented: 10


Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2021


The conclusion of the 2021 fiscal year brought the finale of the Auburn Alumni Association’s 5-year strategic plan. Initiatives such as Black Alumni Weekend, the 125th celebration of women being admitted to Auburn University, the creation of virtual programming and many others contributed to a surge of engagement from alumni and friends.

A modernization of the association’s membership structure, welcoming a record number of Affiliates to the Auburn Clubs program and maintaining strong financial assets also accomplished the association’s goal of increasing meaningful alumni engagement.

As of 2017, all Auburn graduates are welcomed as general members of the Auburn Alumni Association. Contributing members (annual and life) qualify for enhanced benefits.

The number of people participating in Black Alumni Weekend increased 332%

increase in scholarship recipients. 34% increase in scholarship award value
In April 2020, the association introduced the 18:56 Speaker Series, a live, online show featuring interviews with amazing guests that last no more than 18 minutes and 56 seconds. The association also hosted a Black Alumni Week, Club Leadership Conference and the inaugural Auburn Women’s Summit, all virtually. These digital initiatives have engaged a total of more than 100,000 alumni and friends.
The 125 Years of Auburn Women celebration honored Willie Little, Katherine Broun and Margaret Teague, the women who first stepped on this campus in 1892 and paid tribute to the thousands of women who walked through the door they opened. The initiative engaged 585 individuals, generated more than 1 million touchpoints and saw a collaboration with more than 30 partners on and off campus.
In FY18 permanent university funding was secured to produce an annual, all-alumni issue of Auburn Magazine. This issue is typically disseminated to more than 208,000 households.
96 Auburn Clubs, 34 Affiliates
Though Auburn Alumni Affiliates were officially recognized by the association in 2015, there was a substantial increase of more than 325% in new on- and off-campus affiliate groups between 2016-2021.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and in partnership with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Buy One, Give One Mask Initiative provided more than 8,000 masks in 2020 for Alabamians in areas of greatest need.
Regenia R. Sanders Headshot
Gretchen Signature
Regenia Sanders ’95

President, Auburn Alumni Association

As I write this letter, I am especially grateful that, after a year of uncertainty, things are slowly getting back to normal. I am so proud of the Auburn Alumni Association staff and board for all the ways they stepped up to the challenge during the pandemic, finding ways to keep the Auburn Family connected while they were quarantined at home.

Being back to in-person events (from a safe distance) in 2021 has reminded me not to take our many privileges for granted. Although we were all thrust into a “unprecedented” situation, I have been in awe of our alumni association team for stepping up to the challenge of having to shift to all virtual events–even creating some new ones–and then seamlessly transitioning back to face-to-face events, while also keeping many of the online options.

Our recently formed Young Alumni Council and our Black Alumni Council made great strides with meaningful engagement opportunities for their respective groups of alumni. Both have created scholarships and the Black Alumni Council named their scholarship as well as an endowment in honor of Dr. Harold A. Franklin ’01 ’20, the first Black student at Auburn. Sadly, Dr. Franklin passed away this year, but his legacy will live on at Auburn University–and beyond–for many years to come.

My first year as president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors was undoubtedly, unique, however, even though we had to meet virtually, these amazing Auburn men and women never missed a beat and we were able to continue to fill our commitments and serve the association from wherever we were.

I’m especially excited about my second year in office. I don’t think any of us really realized how important the “human touch” really was until it was taken away and it’s just so good to be back together again.

I hope to see you live and in person soon!


Mr. Timothy A. “Tim” Barton ’78
Ms. Maria Lee Baugh ’87
Mr. Frederick R. Blatchford ’85
Mr. Christopher M. Cilluffo ’95
Mr. Joe A. Dalton ’82
Mr. Timothy M. “Tim” Ellen ’81
Mrs. Michelle M. Granberry ’92, Treasurer
Mrs. LuAnne L. Hart ’80, Vice President
Mr. Metrick M. Houser ’93
Dr. Joshua R. Jarrell ’05
Mrs. Angela R. Jenkins ’94
Mr. Douglas E. Kilton ’82
Mrs. Jenna C. Mayo ’06
Mrs. Jennifer G. Moore ’85
Mrs. Ashley N. Robinett ’01
Mr. Michael C. Rogers, Jr. ’87
Ms. Regenia R. Sanders ’95, President
Mrs. Denise Nix Slupe ’86
Mrs. Chastity S. Westry ’97

Ms. Cheryl L. Casey ’83
Dr. Jay Gogue ’69
Mr. M. Van Henley ’80, Past President
Ms. Kelli D. Shomaker
Ms. Jennifer L. Stephens
Mrs. Gretchen VanValkenburg ’86

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