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Alumni Events

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The Return on Revelry
CURRENTS Article Improving events ROI requires frank questions, mindful deconstruction, and continual assessment. Be honest when considering the need for an event. When the turnout or energy level at an anniversary gala is too low, for instance, or a fundraising event doesn't raise enough funds, it's often because planners didn't carefully consider the occasion's intentions—or whether it should happen at all. Consider why you are doing an event and who the audience is. What do we want them to think or know? What do you want them to do?

Copy and Share Everything
CURRENTS Article Lawrence University aims to entice potential applicants is with a 10-page square mailer, which gives students a taste of life at the Wisconsin institution as well as an idea of what life might look like after graduation; a charming and authoritative third-grader leads "Today's Lesson: The Pennfield Fund," a five-minute video set up as a class about the importance of the Rhode Island independent school's annual fund; and during Alumni Weekend 2015, Imperial College London reveled in its graduates' proclivity for pranks.

Having a ‘Hamilton’ Moment
CURRENTS Article Hamilton College students and alumni were fans of Alexander Hamilton long before the musical about him became a Tony-winning sensation. But the New York institution is happy to revel in the attention surrounding the first U.S. treasury secretary: Excitement about Hamilton has become an undercurrent of the campus culture, says Ellen Hotchkiss Rainey, executive director of alumni and parent relations. Here's how three institutions are connecting with the production's popularity.

Copy And Share Everything
CURRENTS Article Ideas we love from institutions everywhere: University College Dublin's September 2015 Woodland Walkies event brought alumni and community members to campus for a day of guided walks, animal behavior talks, pet care tips from practitioners and students at UCD's School of Veterinary Medicine; Wake Forest University's June 2015 "52 Hours of Giving" annual fund campaign challenge spurred excitement with a limited edition deck of playing cards; and Imperial College London's October 2015 Imperial Apocalypse social media campaign encouraged students to submit scientific tips for surviving a zombie apocalypse.

The Art of Fundraising
CURRENTS Article The University of Houston's 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala helped some students and graduates earn cash. The gala included live and silent auctions of student- and alumni-created art inspired by UH's mascot, a cougar named Shasta.

Starting with Zero: A Lesson in Developing Alumni Groups
Article,  Community College News Article Instead of starting with postcards and emails, Brookhaven Community College, located right outside of Dallas, Texas, tried something different when looking to begin the school's first alumni program. The college hosted a kick-off event where they invited every single alumni in recent history back to the campus for a small event.

Clocking In for Campus
CURRENTS Article Each May, more than 200 alumni volunteers arrive at Berry College in Georgia for Alumni Work Week to reconnect with classmates and help maintain the 27,000-acre campus. Alumni do everything from weaving chair seats to restoring doors and cleaning the barns, gazebos, nature trails, and vegetable cooling rooms.

Grateful Graduates
CURRENTS Article Colorado's Craig Hospital, which specializes in treating brain and spinal cord injuries, invites former patients to a block party that builds on the close relationship hospital staff develop with patients. The party helps to connect graduates with patients who are experiencing challenges that come with a disability, from walking and balancing issues to financial burdens due to medical expenses and loss of full-time employment.

Thinking Outside the Quad
CURRENTS Article Whether it's tying physics research to Star Trek or bragging up your soccer team during the World Cup, popular news events can lead to exciting opportunities for alumni and community engagement. Here's how institutions from Catholic University to Lafayette College used current events to energize past and present students.

When Alumni Don’t Care about Tradition
CURRENTS Article An institution's relationship with its alumni cannot be completely based on nostalgia. While most alumni value their alma mater's history and tradition, even diehard reunion attendees want to talk about more than their freshman year. They want to know that their degree keeps increasing in value, that new facilities are being built, and that the university is rising in national rankings. If your alumni crave a relationship with your college as it is today, not as it was back then, then your programming should reflect that.

Yep, This Is a Virtual Event
CURRENTS Article From class reunions to networking, more and more universities are getting savvy at hosting virtual events. Here's how eight institutions are doing it right.

Fall 2014
CURRENTS Article A 25-year-old assistant director of alumni relations shares the lessons learned during her first year at Williston Northampton School.

CURRENTS Article A 25-year-old assistant director of alumni relations shares the lessons learned during her first year at Williston Northampton School.

Becoming Your Alumni’s Career Coach
CURRENTS Article Employed alumni are eager for career advancement advice and are turning to their alma mater, a trusted resource, rather than expensive private career consultants. University career specialists are working with graduates from 15 or 20 years ago just as frequently as they are interacting with recent graduates—and the demand keeps growing.

Alumni Event Planning: Repeat These Five Mantras
Article,  BriefCASE Article This fall, the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School will celebrate its 25th anniversary, and to mark it, alumni chapters from Sydney, Australia, to Santiago, Chile, will sponsor celebratory boat cruises and barbeques. Events like these, however, are a means rather than an end, according to presenters at the 2015 CASE Summer Institute in Alumni Relations.

To Affinity … and Beyond!
CURRENTS Article Universities are becoming more involved with niche affinity groups that either speak to postgraduate professional and personal interests or hark back to those nostalgic memories. Finding those pockets of alumni can boost engagement in ways that hosting class reunions may not.

Goodbye Galas?
CURRENTS Article Hilbert College's No-Tie Gala is a virtual fundraising affair no one attends.

A Stroke of Genius
CURRENTS Article The Head Of The Charles Regatta draws more than 300,000 spectators each fall to the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Inspired by "head of the river" races in the U.K., the New England version is the largest two-day rowing competition in the world and considered one of the biggest alumni events in the United States. With more than 70 independent schools, colleges, and universities and about 11,000 athletes from around the world participating, the regatta "serves as a sort of homecoming for the whole rowing community," says Kate Broderick, director of operations for Head Of The Charles, which will celebrate its 50th race October 18 and October 19.

Play Makers
CURRENTS Article Alumni officers need to invest in family-friendly programming to stay connected with young alumni. But it's not as simple as hosting a children's carnival at your next reunion. This articles covers key strategies for success.

Golden Gallery
CURRENTS Article CURRENTS highlights selected winners of CASE’s annual Circle of Excellence awards. This year’s format is more visual and answers questions such as “What problem did these products or activities solve?” Award winners include Mississippi State University Foundation’s annual report; Valencia College’s alumni magazine, Vitae; and Columbia University’s Columbia Day.

Captive Audience
CURRENTS Article Ryerson University in Canada has created the Alumni@Work initiative to reconnect alumni with the university at their places of work.

Laws of Attraction
CURRENTS Article In an era of tight budgets and increased accountability, giving alumni what they want—and how they want it—is critical. Developing an effective engagement strategy requires alumni professionals to reconsider how alumni identify themselves, relinquish control of some programs, and meet alumni where they are—on land or online. Most of all, it requires a willingness to listen and to change.

Major League Bragging Rights
CURRENTS Article In competing to throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field to start off one of two Chicago Cubs "Salute to the Big 10" night baseball games in October 2012, Big 10 alumni chapters in Chicago, including Michigan State University's Chicago Spartans, gained an attractive opportunity to engage alumni and demonstrate the benefits of Big 10 alumni networking to high school guidance counselors.

Office Space: Foreign exchange
CURRENTS Article In this article, Sue Rees, head of alumni relations at City University London, discusses what she learned during her opportunity to observe and work with alumni associations at six U.S. institutions and compares and contrasts the differences between alumni organization efforts in the United States and the U.K., which she concludes is mainly a difference in scale and scope.

CASE Survey Identifies Key Traits for Successful Alumni Relations
Article,  BriefCASE Article A CASE survey on alumni relations programmes outside of North America reveals that frequent communications via e-newsletters and alumni magazines as well as more holiday excursions and personal-interest events can increase the number of donors for these institutions.

Exhibitionist Alumni
CURRENTS Article The Wellington School showcase alumni art during the May 2011 alumni weekend.

Serious Fun
CURRENTS Article An intense campus trivia contest that began in 1980 at St. Cloud State University as an effort to give students something to look forward to in the post-holiday period of Minnesota's long winters blossoms into an event that hooks students as well as alumni and community members who come back to compete or volunteer every year.

Get App-y
CURRENTS Article Computer science students at Miami University in Ohio developed an iPad app to help streamline speed networking events the alumni association holds.

Advance Work: Phone Booth Busters
CURRENTS Article Saint Mary's College of California celebrated the 50th anniversary of a photograph that made it into LIFE magazine.

Advance Work: Import-Export Business
CURRENTS Article A contingent of Yale University alumni leaders traveled to the Australian National University to pass on their knowledge of alumni relations and benefit from ANU's expertise in environmental and sustainability issues.

Advance Work: Leveraging Success
CURRENTS Article The University of Toronto has started a tradition of holding alumni events that correspond with the summer Olympics. This year in Beijing will be no different.

Advance Work: Get a Life
CURRENTS Article Ball State University alumni now have more than one life to live. The university is holding alumni events in the virtual world of Second Life.

Postcard from Beijing
CURRENTS Article A look at U.S. and Australian universities that organized alumni events for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Advance Work: You Say Tomato...
CURRENTS Article At Carnegie Mellon University, Campus Conversations bring together alumni, students, faculty, and staff to discuss controversial and emotional topics in a reasoned and informed way.

Diversity Programs: Villanova University School of Law - Gold Medal
Best Practice Villanova University School of Law: Why Diversity Matters - 2007 Circle of Excellence Awards Program gold medal-winning program in Alumni Relations Programs: Realizing the need to engage the larger legal community in the discussion of the importance of and ongoing challenge to achieving meaningful diversity in the legal profession, the Villanova Law Minority Alumni Society launched its first annual program on diversity in Center City Philadelphia.

Strength in Numbers
CURRENTS Article Some communities of practice are less about benchmarking information and more about creating an economies of scale. The members Northeast Indiana Alumni Directors Consortium hold joint events and help each other out. This sidebar is part of the article "Easy as Pie."

Advance Work: Something in Common
CURRENTS Article Smaller institutions sometimes need to think about economies of scale when planning alumni events. A group of European independent schools did just that and pulled off a successful joint reunion in New York.

Advance Work: Love, Alma Mater Style
CURRENTS Article Davenport University's alumni association created a contest to engage their alumniweds--alumni who married each other. The contest and subsequent event were a success beyond all expectations.

Advance Work: Do You Want to Be a Star?
CURRENTS Article Last June the producers of Donald Trump’s hit series, The Apprentice, called Towson officials to see if they would invite their alumni to a casting call they were holding in the Baltimore area. Towson officials went a step further and offered to organize a private campus casting call for its alumni--and to handle all the details.

AdvanceWork: A Match Made in Minutes
CURRENTS Article Alumni networking can feel a bit like "catch as catch can," says consultant and Columbia Business School alumna Linda Netherton, who wanted to make networking more efficient and effective for other CBS graduates. Working with fellow alumnus Tom Jaffee--the brains behind and organized a "speed networking" event for her alma mater's Boston Alumni Club. This article discusses the event-planning process and outcome.

AdvanceWork: Alma Mater of the Bride
CURRENTS Article The boyfriend of a University of Michigan alumna enlists alumni association staff to help him propose to his girlfriend on campus. The association created an invitation for a fictitious Class of '98 reunion to help Murray Harris get Katherine Heid to the campus, where she accepted his marriage proposal.

AdvanceWork: Golfing for Dollars
CURRENTS Article Graduates can show their school spirit — and raise scholarship funds — at a national alumni golf championship

Joining Forces
CURRENTS Article Small colleges may have trouble hosting alumni events in locations where their alumni base is small. Three liberal arts colleges in Maine--Bowdoin, Colby, and Bates--teamed up to hold combined programs for alumni in cities nationwide. The three alumni offices now work together to organize arts and sports events, travel programs, and networking parties, as well as a joint annual retreat for alumni officers from nine New England colleges.

Road Shows
CURRENTS Article Alumni relations and development professionals often create special events for out-of-town alumni that are designed to deliver a taste of campus. These “road shows” can vary from campaign events to lectures to black-tie affairs. The author describes a wide range of successful road shows institutions have created and provides detailed advice on finding venues, ensuring turnout, and other important steps.

Closing Remarks: There's No Business Like Alumni Business
CURRENTS Article Alumni events planners find themselves exploring mysteries from the ubiquity of rubber chicken entrees to the correct plural of “alumna.”

AdvanceWork: Photo Overload
CURRENTS Article If your staff has enough alumni-event snapshots lying around to wallpaper your office, take the advice of some ALUMNI-L participants for organizing and downsizing photo piles

AdvanceWork: Love, Alumni Style
CURRENTS Article We have a legend at Bowdoin College that 60 percent of our alumni have married other graduates of the institution. Given that the campus has been coed for just 25 of its 205 years, that legend always seemed more myth than reality to me.

AdvanceWork: Tracking Alumni Event Participation
CURRENTS Article Moving beyond head counts

AdvanceWork: Staging a Virtual Comeback
CURRENTS Article The University of Wisconsin, Platteville, enables alumni to participate in popular campus events via its Web site.

AdvanceWork: Liquor and Liability
CURRENTS Article An attorney and two alumni relations executives discuss the liabilities of serving alcohol on and off campus.

A Roaring Success
CURRENTS Article Julie Stone, regional programming coordinator for the advancement office at San Jose State University, tells how she has planned successful events for alumni in distant cities. She determined which cities have sufficient numbers of alumni to make events possible; surveyed alumni in those regions about their interests; and budgeted carefully to cover costs and track expenses.

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Funds
CURRENTS Article Two officials from Stephen F. Austin State University describe nontraditional alumni events that generate revenue while still building university allegiance and pride. Homecoming activities include a golf tournament, a series of auctions, a charitable raffle, and a toy duck race. At alumni banquets, participants can bid on table centerpieces or buy commemorative champagne glasses. Parents can enter a raffle for a year's free tuition each year. Through such activities, the university raises more than $250,000 annually, most of which goes into scholarship endowment.

Workshop: Speaking of Money
CURRENTS Article In April 1997, Goucher College alumni association sponsored a successful one-day Managing Your Money seminar that attracted 175 alumni, students, and faculty, among others. These types of seminars can be valuable ways to enhance reunions and other alumni programs, uncover new volunteers, and connect students and alumni. Enhance career networking activities by maintaining a list of alumni experts

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