March Update from the Alumni Engagement and Development Working Group

Chair: Gil Kemp, Board of Managers
Sabrina Martinez, Alumni Council, Chairs the Engagement Task Force

Co-Conveners: Stephen Bayer, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations
Nancy Nicely, Vice President for Communications and Public Relations

The alumni engagement task force has focused its work in several areas in the last few months:

  • Alumni Engagement Census: we have reviewed as many areas as possible that interact with alumni and gathered data that will help us understand how to engage alumni even better in the future.  Several questions have emerged from that census that we hope will lead us to refining our alumni engagement practices. Most of these questions are now being addressed in one of each of the three subgroups that have formed and are described below.
  • The Knowledge Network and Connections: What shape will alumni engagement efforts take in the future? How do we create a lifelong intellectual network for alumni that enriches their lives and helps deepen their connection to the College? How do we create opportunities that meet alumni where they are in terms of time and willingness to connect, understanding that these may be independent variables and shift over time? How do we best recognize and use information about how people connect to affinity groups? How do we most creatively connect alumni to fellow alumni, to students, and to faculty?
  • Social Media: How do we best use social media to engage our alumni? We brought in a communications practitioner from Vanderbilt University who presented to the group on best practices, trends, and future directions of the use of social media by colleges and universities.  We are thoroughly reviewing our current social media outreach and strategizing about future directions by first establishing clear objectives and metrics for measuring success. Our efforts are focused on creating an expanded universe of social media “storytelling” and asking our alumni to help us by becoming ambassadors/fans in this arena.
  • Administrative and Structural Support: What is the best way to support the logistical and administrative details necessary for all the areas of the college that engage alumni in order that we do so effectively and efficiently?

The development task force has spent a fair amount of time understanding the inner-workings of the development office, from gathering research, to work with parents and current students, to the structure of campaigns, to how it manages prospects and visits and more. The group has also done some benchmarking and looked closely at development trends in higher education. One of the next tasks will be to take a look at how we might optimally structure the development office to maximize its effectiveness. The group will look at different development office models.