By David Penney
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN A university and its alumni are constantly evolving. Memorial has been focused on that very issue over the last 18 months, working to understand how best to support the university and its alumni.
A review of Memorial’s External Relations Portfolio in 2017 came with recommendations to move the alumni affairs unit under the public engagement division. This repositioning enables an increased focus on engagement for the alumni unit and on fundraising in the development unit, though a strategic alignment between the two will be maintained. The result of comprehensive consultation and planning since that recommendation is a new university-wide alumni engagement strategy led by a unit now called Alumni Engagement.
“We’ve got an incredibly dedicated alumni body, and they give back to Memorial in many important ways,” said Dr. Rob Greenwood, executive director, public engagement. “We’ve created a strategic plan that builds strong connections with the people and work of the university — connections that lead to beneficial relationships for alumni, for Memorial, and for Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Consultations with alumni, friends and internal stakeholders took place in the fall of 2017, and more than 200 participants contributed in-person to the discussion. In-person sessions were conducted with three primary groups: internal working group (Memorial faculty, staff and students from various units and campuses); external local advisory group (alumni participants residing in NL); and an out of province advisory group.
We’ve created a strategic plan that builds strong connections with the people and work of the university — connections that lead to beneficial relationships for alumni, for Memorial, and for Newfoundland and Labrador.– Dr. Rob Greenwood, executive director, public engagement
An alumni engagement survey, conducted by EAi Analysis Inc., was also undertaken in late 2017 as part of the new strategic planning process. Distributed via email and conducted online, the survey was sent to 39,630 alumni and it garnered more than 3,500 responses.
“A sincere thank you to all of the alumni and friends who took part in the survey and consultations,” said Lynn Squires, assistant director, alumni engagement. “It’s really exciting to build a program for alumni with alumni. In conjunction with our continued partnership with the Office of Development, we’re looking forward to the new opportunities for Alumni Engagement. We’re currently working on the action plan and programs that reflect the broad feedback and strategic direction we’ve taken from this process.”
Dr. Greenwood reiterated the importance of the process and the insight it has provided in terms of the strong interest among alumni for other ways to connect with Memorial, including getting involved with students and faculty in new ways.
“Countless alumni are experts in their fields, are community leaders of all descriptions, and have tremendous capacity to work with Memorial’s faculty, staff and students,” he said. “There are many ways to create more points for collaboration, connect to the incredible talent and potential of our alumni, and build opportunities for growth that help everyone.”
Stay tuned! More stories and updates on the new and exciting opportunities for alumni and friends to engage with Memorial will be profiled in our next issue of Luminus, via our monthly e-newsletter, Luminus Express and on our social media channels.