Collaborative Programs: Florida International University - Bronze Medal

Category 1D: Alumni Relations Programs – Collaborative Programs
Florida International University: Commencement Grad Send-Off

Contact: Duane Wiles, assistant executive director, alumni relations, 11200 SW 8th, MARC 510, Miami, FL 33199, Phone: (305) 348-4213, e-mail:

Staffing: Two professional staff members and one student assistant support the Grad Send-Off event from alumni relations. Two persons from the university bookstore; three persons from the university registrar’s office; and two persons from community relations support the Grad Send-Off event.

Program Description: Grad Send-Off is a university-wide recognized bi-annual event sponsored by the FIU Alumni Association and university bookstore that provides the graduating class an opportunity to finalize all of the Commencement needs in one stop. Any graduate who plans to walk in either the fall or spring commencement ceremonies are invited to attend. The event is held at three bookstore locations over a seven-day period.

Graduates can pick up all their graduation supplies including caps and gowns, individual tassels, commencement tickets, and graduation announcements. The FIU Alumni Association partnered with the university bookstore to sell “Grad Packs” consisting of cap and gown and an annual membership in the FIU Alumni Association. The “Grad Packs” are sold at $50 for undergraduates and $70 for graduates. Also included in the packs are free t-shirts, paper clips, and a life after college tips booklet. Those in attendance can also purchase FIU merchandise and class rings at a discounted rate.

At the event, free refreshments, giveaways, and door prizes are provided. Representatives from various departments on campus and community business partners are on hand to assist including the alumni association (who serve as greeters), university bookstore (sell packs), registrar’s office (hand-out graduation tickets and passes), career services (provide employment information), university credit union (open up checking or savings accounts), community relations (take orders for graduation DVDs), Bob Knight Photos (take pictures and orders for graduation photos), Balfour and Herff Jones (order class rings, custom grad announcements, etc.), NELNET (student loan consolidation), AIA (short term health insurance), and GEICO (car and motorcycle insurance).

Program Goals and Objectives:

  1. To create a high quality one-stop shopping experience for the graduating class
  2. To increase membership in the FIU Alumni Association.

Target Audience: Current FIU students who plan to graduate in either the fall or spring semesters.

Participation: There were 5,800 invited to the Grad Send-Off where approximately 4,000 attended. There were 2,889 Grad Packs sold, yielding 2,889 new memberships generating $28,890 for the alumni association. Thus 50 percent (2,889 out of 5,800) of the graduating class signed up to become dues paying members of the FIU Alumni Association at the event.

Program Budget: Grad Send-Off budget for FY 05-06 was approximately $9,500 for catering, signage, promotional materials, gift bags, and giveaways.

Documented Results:

  1. To create a high quality one stop shopping experience for the graduating class. The event provided graduates with an opportunity to plan for commencement much earlier than ever before (two months prior to graduation). Graduates were able to purchase their commencement regalia, and pick-up their tickets and passes. Overall attendance at the event increased by 233 percent (1,200 to 4,000) and the number of memberships sold increased by 221 percent (900 to 2,899).
  2. To increase membership in the FIU Alumni Association. The alumni association received 2,889 new memberships as a result of the Grad Send-Off. The event helped connect more than one half of the graduation class to the alumni association.