By: Morin Mawhinney

When The Cadre walked into the newly renovated Department of Development and Alumni Involvement building at 618 University Drive, the bright atmosphere of the space perfectly reflected each staff member’s enthusiasm.

The Cadre sat down with Executive Director for the Department of Development and Alumni Involvement (DDAI), Myrtle Jenkins-Smith, who spoke not only about the beautiful new building, but also the department’s goals and current involvements, some of which the Cadre found rather surprising.  

Because of the department’s physical distance from the university, it is easy to not to realize the active involvement the it has at UPEI. Myrtle Jenkins-Smith debunked this myth for the Cadre.

“There is always fundraising going on, but we’re in the middle of a very large campaign…we launched [the campaign] with four priorities: athletics, AVC Equipment, Experiential and Global Learning (this is where we are raising money so that we can have an endowed pool in place so if students want an opportunity to study anywhere in their field, this is a place where they can get some funding) and also engineering…Today, we are just over half-way through the campaign and we have raised just over $36 million.”

If anyone still doubted the DDAI’s commitment to student life, Jenkins-Smith adds on,

“It helps the students, it’s all going back into programming for students. When we say Engineering, this is not paying for the Engineering building. This is about us providing things that are needed in the building, for the students.”

These are obviously huge accomplishments and end goals, however, Jenkins-Smith goes on even further to tell the Cadre that that’s not all they’re doing.

There is a long list of items that the DDAI has had a major hand in bringing to the university which include Athletic Scholarships, the brand new soccer fields and bleachers, the sleek, black chairs in the sunroom of the SU Building, and even the new decor of Dawson Lounge.

“These are things that are extracurricular,” Jenkins-Smith nods, “they’ll never make the university budget, so we fundraise for them.”  

Of course, these gifts would not be possible without the UPEI Alumni who give back once they have graduated. Receiving donations and keeping the alumni up to date is yet another side of what the DDAI does.

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The new building itself has been owned by UPEI for upwards of ten years, however, Jenkins-Smith tells the Cadre, the DDAI only moved in during December. They were feeling cramped in their Steel Building office, which was transformed into part of Kinesiology after the DDAI’s move.

The department has opted out of a traditional, industrial office building for a cozy, welcoming atmosphere paired with modern, open concept design. When renovating 618 University Avenue, this design was very intentional: the spacious interior makes it easy to host large events with crowds of enthusiastic alumni and students.

Although the building seems distant from the university, “you’ll eventually see a little path behind us that will connect us,” says Jenkins-Smith.

After this pleasant sit down with Myrtle Jenkins-Smith, as well as a brief tour of the building, the university seemed like a wonderfully new building. The students who attend are supported from behind the scenes in many ways they are unaware of.

The Department of Development and Alumni Involvement has been quietly making UPEI a more welcoming while contentedly receiving little recognition. The Cadre would like to take this opportunity to thank the DDAI for all their hard work on the part of students; there’s no doubt it deserves the lovely new building it currently occupies.