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Special Events

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In It for the Lawn Haul
CURRENTS Article Moving day can be stressful, but for University of Wisconsin-Madison students and local renters, the chaos can be as joyous as Christmas. For decades, every August 14, apartment leases have ended and not begun again for a full 24 hours so apartments can be cleaned and repaired. This leaves the city in a whirlwind of furniture and appliances at many curbs while homeless-for-a-day hippies and other residents scour through trash for treasure. For one magical night, dubbed Hippie Christmas, crashing on couches in the open air and lawn-camping are the norm.

No Lemons Here
CURRENTS Article Change happens. But that doesn't mean it's easy. Change can be threatening. An institutional merger or updated mascot, for example, can spark fears that alumni memories and traditions aren't treasured. In a job where keeping alumni happily engaged is key, how do you navigate the negative stuff? We aren't talking about crises—bad news takes everyone by surprise. But if you know your alumni, you can predict when a big change for the institution is going to be a problem for some graduates. Before you start bracing yourself for hate mail, take a deep breath. With a proactive outreach plan, you can take part of the sting out of the unwelcome and maybe even turn the news into a positive for your alumni.

Spring Fever
CURRENTS Article Old and new springtime traditions create campus camaraderie. Here are some unique ways Lake Superior State University, the University of Pennsylvania, Uppsala University, and Cornell University celebrate spring's arrival.

Copy And Share Everything
CURRENTS Article The messaging behind the "Because This Is Auburn" campaign's print fundraising materials moved donors' hearts and minds enough to help the Alabama institution reach its $1 billion goal one year early. And: In October 2015, University of Sydney faculty members took to different bars to simultaneously discuss provocative topics to attract the interest of prospective graduate students and generate media attention.

Do Traditions Matter?
CURRENTS Article Illinois State University's traditions website features 15 traditions that combine the best of the 159-year-old university's history, student life, academics, and athletics. The goal is to improve alumni engagement, encourage philanthropy, and "reflect what ISU strives to be" by identifying the university's traditions, which include places, activities, and historical events, and making them a core part of ISU's culture.

For Your Holiday Wish List
CURRENTS Article Holiday gift ideas for friends, family, and colleagues.

Thanksgiving, with a Twist
CURRENTS Article How three institutions put a unique spin on celebrating Thanksgiving.

Fool-ish Fun That’s True to the Brand
CURRENTS Article If Legoland had a university, it would look a lot like the one depicted on the University of Rochester's website on April 1, 2014.

Sowing Skills, Reaping Content
CURRENTS Article A year after CASE’s 2014 Multimedia Workshop, participants reflect on their successes and lessons learned—from the intricacies of on-camera interviews to growing audiences.

Swift Gratitude
CURRENTS Article Giving days prompt institutions to send speedy, creative, and social thank you messages to their donors

Greeting the Season
CURRENTS Article Four institutions get creative with their digital holiday messages.

Odds and Ends: Multiplying Philanthropy
CURRENTS Article In 2012, #GivingTuesday arrived to shift shoppers' attention back to the real meaning of the season with a global day of giving. The idea for the campaign, founded by New York's 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, emerged from a spring 2012 discussion with supporters of Stanford University's Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

Celebration Central
CURRENTS Article From homecoming and family weekend to smaller gatherings such as presidential hospitality dinners, CSU Events is the creative force that oversees and implements the smooth execution of all social gatherings at Colorado State. CSU Events’ executive director explains why and how the institution created this unit and provides steps for setting up a similar system at your institution.

Going for Broken
CURRENTS Article In recent years, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has made setting a world record part of its new student convocation event each August. This article looks at past record-setting efforts as well as the one it will attempt in August 2013.

Trading Places
CURRENTS Article This article highlights a contest that Canada's York University began in 2012. A York undergraduate student won the right to switch places with the institution's president for a day while the president took on the student's classes and schedule for the day.

Going for Gold
CURRENTS Article The story profiles eight of the 2012 CASE Circle of Excellence Award grand gold and gold award winners.

Icing on the Cake
CURRENTS Article The University of South Carolina offers a wedding giveaway contest each semester. Current students, alumni, and children of alumni are eligible to win a free wedding, and a USC wedding planning class handles all of the decisions and details. Local vendors provide the dress, rings, flowers, etc., and the university's president, alumni relations office, and other campus departments have all been involved in the giveaway.

AdvanceWork: Is the Price Right?
CURRENTS Article Do-it-yourself research can help you find the answer

Advance Work: Touchdown Tune-up
CURRENTS Article Lake Erie College needed a fight song for its new football team. It was the perfect excuse for a media-generating contest.

Advance Work: When Good Events Go Bad
CURRENTS Article This article offers a look at events gone awry on three campuses and how planners managed each situation.

AdvanceWork: If I Knew You Were Coming…
CURRENTS Article Event planners give advice on how to boost the percentage of invitees who RSVP to events. They recommend making the invitations more personal, giving people more avenues for responding, and offering incentives for early response, among other things.

Kicking the Habit
CURRENTS Article Many institutions are involving alumni in changing a campus's alcohol culture. In light of high rates of alcohol abuse among students, alumni magazines are covering the problem; campuses are devising diplomatic strategies to encourage change; and alumni associations are setting sober examples, including devising policies on alcohol sponsorships.

Special Event Production
CURRENTS Article A chart listing 15 special event management software programs, and providing information on vendors, contacts, price, servers, features, report templates, and clients, will be of interest to event planners and information technology staff.

AdvanceWork: The Sights, the Sounds, the Smells
CURRENTS Article An event production expert describes ways to engage constituents by appealing to the senses.

AdvanceWork: Ooze It or Lose It
CURRENTS Article A year-end tradition at the University at Buffalo is Oozfest, an annual mud volleyball tournament organized by the University Student Alumni Board. Competitors include more than 100 teams of students, alumni, university employees, and local residents. The event generates good will, national media coverage, and revenue to support the board’s programming and scholarship programs.

AdvanceWork: Names and Faces
CURRENTS Article It's homecoming weekend and you're a frantic alumni relations officer trying to round up graduates for a class photo.

Are You Covered?
CURRENTS Article Campus event planners need to know all they can about the risky business of special event insurance

Not Just for Alumni Anymore
CURRENTS Article Campus communicators can use special events to cultivate relationships with reporters, maintain campus relations, and raise the institution's visibility. PR officers from many institutions describe their success with: 1) nontraditional press conferences designed around themed receptions or hands-on demonstrations; 2) creative groundbreaking ceremonies; and 3) thank-you events for helpful journalists.

Proceed with Caution
CURRENTS Article An alumni relations executive offers event and programming tips that respond to and capitalize on societal trends.

New Tools for the Trade
CURRENTS Article Traditionally, special events planners have been slow to move toward using technology to support their work. Harris offers several high-tech tips to manage basic tasks: 1) use databases to maintain mailing and other lists; 2) consider that the purchase of specialized software, although seemingly cost-prohibitive, may pay for itself in a short period of time; 3) plan room arrangements with special software; 4) use e-mail, voicemail, faxes and other technologies to advertise events and communicate with participants; and 5) sign on to the special events listserv to share information and find solutions to problems. Several sources of special events and auction software are provided.

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