Fred Williams doesn't ask for much.
He just wants a portion of the 16 to 18 seconds experts say people spend flipping through the daily mail.
"That isn't easy to get," said Williams, executive director of the Kansas University Alumni Association. "We're in competition with all the other mail that comes to people."
He said that means words and pictures sent to KU alumni must grab their attention and convince them to keep abreast of campus activities for their benefit as well as KU's.
"The association exists to be a communication device for our alumni," Williams said. "It's important alumni know their school is ranked in the top five, that someone has endowed a professorship. That gives their degree credence."
Williams' philosophy is that if alumni stay in touch, they'll also be more willing to help the university whether that involves speaking to a group of high school students about KU or donating money to the university.
JUDGING BY the last count of association membership, there is growing interest among alumni in KU. There are more than 45,900 dues-paying members. Since 1983 KUAA's centennial year membership has grown 15,000.
"Membership has grown, I would hope, because of the services that we provide," Williams said.
He said it's important to provide quality services because only half of the association's 45,000 members are members for life.
The cost of a membership in KUAA won't be increased this year, Williams said.
"We had not had a dues increase for a period of about eight years, but we increased our dues last year," he said. "In increasing the dues, we tried to increase them in a range that would allow us to not have to increase them the next year."
The price for a single life membership is $750. Life membership for a couple is $1,000. Annual dues are $35 for a single membership and $40 for a joint membership.
The association's national office is next to the campus in the K.S. "Boots" Adams Alumni Center, 1266 Oread.
KUAA has a policy-making board of directors with Williams charged with overall management of association affairs.
LAST YEAR, the executive board appointed two task forces.
One examined the long-range capital needs of the association, which included possible expansion of the Adams Center.
"The operations within the center could be carried out more effectively and efficiently if there were some addition or expansion of the center," Williams said.
He said general maintenance is another concern.
"We want, as an association, to maintain the environment of the facility in the condition that it was when it opened," Williams said.
"It has, at times, an enormous number of people who use it. Because of that there is some wear and tear that we'll have to take care of."
The second task force, which has not completed its work, is studying international alumni programs.
"The Pacific Rim has been quite sucessful in the international business arena," Williams said. "We have alumni from those countries."
He said it would benefit the university to strengthen ties with alumni around the world, because they can be significant contributors to the university.