Alumni Relations

From UB

Colleges experiment with engaging alumni of online programs

September, 2016
Roxanne Shiels is alumni strategist for Penn State Outreach and Online Education. She can be reached at

As growing numbers of students pursue degrees online, a new constituency in higher education is being created: alumni who have completed their studies without setting foot on campus. That presents a challenge for those of us in alumni relations.

Can gender-specific campaigns boost fundraising?

August, 2016

Female graduates receive fewer solicitations for donations, and they give at a lower rate than do their male counterparts, according to the “Alumni Engagement and Giving” survey by Alumni Monitor, a higher education consulting service.

What alumni magazines should be about

May, 2016

Alumni. That’s what alumni association magazines should, to a much greater extent, be about. At least they should if we want them to do better at marketing the university.

Inside Look: Alumni Houses

March, 2016
Students at Westminster College in Salt Lake City can attend networking events, hold meetings or enjoy some complimentary coffee at the Kim T. Adamson Alumni House, completed in 2008 for $1.4 million. Alumni can rent space for events, and visitors get a sense of history from campus memorabilia displayed throughout the house that features a mural of Westminster’s circa-1906 flagship building. Posters in the reception area celebrate alumni successes. Architect: VCBO Architecture (Salt Lake City)

With the need to host both one-on-one donor chats plus receptions for a hundred or more alumni and friends, campus alumni houses tend to be versatile venues. While great rooms must have space for that next big event, the aim is for an intimate group not to feel swallowed up by the space.

Banking on college sports

March, 2015
UNC-Charlotte’s 49ers join the top level of college football this fall—a move administrators say will create energy on campus and giving the growing university more influence in the NCAA.

New football teams continue to take the field at colleges and universities each fall, overcoming criticism—from within higher ed and from outside—that sports programs not only suck up money desperately needed by academic departments but also drive up tuition and student fees.

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It’s no secret that text messaging is the preferred method of communication for today’s students over email, direct mail or phone calls; a recent study found that some 97 percent say they use texting as their primary form of communication, 73 percent say they want schools to text them, and nearly three quarters of prospective students want to text with admissions counselors. However, only 28 percent report being offered the option to text with their college or university. How should institutions address this gap by reaching students the way they prefer?


Institutions of all sizes are facing increased scrutiny of their student ID systems in light of recent security concerns. At the same time, budgets are tight for many colleges and universities, creating a number of common challenges when it comes to the business processes involved with issuing student IDs and maintaining an ID system.


Over the next decade, higher education will experience a significant shift, as the millennial generation gives way to “Generation Z.” As a result of this multi-generational shift in student expectations, institutions will have to adapt how they do business across departments, from financial aid to the business office to student services. This will include using social media effectively to communicate with students and their families—particularly in the financial aid and business offices.


For institutions to remain competitive, they must support a growing student population while providing responsive and top-quality student services. Linn-Benton Community College, which serves over 20,000 full-, part-time and non-credit students in Oregon, automated admissions processes to ensure that exceptional student experience begins from the first point of contact with the college, while improving efficiency and reducing costs.


Given the current environment in higher ed, the pressure to contain costs and the need to justify expenses, it is more critical than ever that any technology investment not only meet the needs of staff, students and the institution, but also provide a clear return on investment. When it comes to the significant investment involved with implementing an ERP, there are strategies and approaches that any institution can take to reduce total cost of ownership, as well as realize ROI in the least amount of time possible.