Celebrating 50 Years in 24 Hours
When the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2021, the alumni relations team had a clever solution: hold events across the globe on a single day. The event—#RSM24: Around the World in 24 Hours—brought together alumni chapters worldwide on June 24, 2021, through in person, virtual, and hybrid events.
- Caltech's Busy Beaver
- Imperial College Brings Alumni Together for Coffee and Coaching
- Content by Students for Student
- Celebrating 50 Years in 24 Hours
Given that 25% of Rotterdam graduates live abroad, the Netherlands university team worked to connect with volunteers across Europe, Asia, the U.S., Canada, and Latin America to organize 29 events with 800 total registrants.
The goals of #RSM24 were to brand the school, generate awareness, and give people a chance to celebrate, explains Meta Haag-Mikec, who took the lead on organizing the event and is now the Associate Director of Alumni Relations at Rotterdam.
Decentralized planning meant that the team provided “tool kits” to support volunteers at the chapter level. Staff also collected registrations, sent merchandise (which included branded hats, banners, and balloons), and shared communication tools and advice on program content.
With the alumni relations team providing guidance and support, alumni chapter members generated their own ideas for events. The activities they hosted ranged from a golf tournament in Iceland to a panel debate in Dubai, to online get-togethers in Canada and across Europe. In Shanghai, more than 50 alumni met to share memories of their studies and hear alumni speak about their experiences as industry leaders.
An online lunch session in Singapore allowed alumni to connect despite strict COVID-19 regulations. People hadn’t been able to reconnect there in a while, explains Haag-Mikec.
“It was during lunch so people could just take time while at work,” says Haag-Mikec. The event served as a nice touch point for the community, she says, which by 2022 was able to have in-person events with a huge increase in participation because of the connections made during #RSM24.
Iceland’s event was also very successful, says Haag-Mikec. A group of around 20 alumni from the tight-knit community there met face to face and played golf, before a participant hosted the group for drinks.
In follow-up surveys 58 alumni indicated interest in further engagement after the conclusion of #RSM24. Alumni participation increased overall in the months following, with graduates organizing more events and activities, developing and establishing chapters, and building stronger communities that give back through mentoring, recruiting, and donating.
“It was a really nice opportunity for alumni to become chapter leads,” says Haag-Mikec.
The celebration’s flexibility and ability to connect its graduates on a global scale earned Rotterdam a gold Circle of Excellence Award in Special Events: In-Person—Single-Day Events.
“I like working with volunteers, especially [seeing] the diversity of people and the way they work. You have to be adaptable. You have to be flexible, but I think [working with them] brought out a nice mash-up of events and it represented the community we have really well,” says Haag-Mikec.
About the author(s)
Hannah Ratzer is Editorial Specialist at CASE.
Article appears in:
March - April 2023
DIGITAL ONLY ISSUE - Measures of Success: Five teams share stories of data in action. Plus a spotlight on sustainability: fundraising for climate initiatives, digital sustainability, and storytelling about climate change.