How alumni involvement can make a difference

August 19, 1998|By TERI JOHNSON

Alumni associations are a two-way street, and universities and graduates both can benefit by kicking into gear.

The university provides services to alumni and brings them back together, and alumni offer their support and talents to the university, says Paul Chewning, vice president for professional development at Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

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The international educational association, based in Washington, D.C., works with alumni relations, communications and fund-raising professionals.

Financial contributions from alumni, parents and friends provide a margin of excellence to universities, offering money for things such as development, scholarships and lectures, Chewning says.

"It's the extra money that can make the university what it is," he says.

The level of alumni participation is one of the criteria foundations and corporations use when deciding whether to donate money to a university, Chewning says.


The main mission of the 23,000-member University of Maryland Alumni Association is to enhance the lifelong relationship of alumni with the university, says Jim Gandorf, director of membership and marketing.

That includes keeping members up-to-date with what is happening on campus and inviting them back to establish an active link, Gandorf says.

Some members serve on committees within the university, and others help recruit promising students, he says.

Student recruiting is critical now, because the number of high school students is decreasing, says Will Armistead, associate executive director of West Virginia University Alumni Association.

"The admissions staff can't be everywhere," Armistead says.

Lisa Stewart, coordinator of Hagerstown Community College Alumni Association, says the association lets people know members' many success stories.

"We are the cheerleader for the college," she says.

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