It is amazing that a year has passed since I arrived in Syracuse and began working with Whitman alumni. I would like to thank all of you who have taken a chance on me—accepted my request to connect; shared your perspective and ideas; provided internships and practical learning experiences for students; agreed to visit Whitman—virtually or in person—to judge a competition, help with a class project or speak to a class; or in a number of other ways welcomed and worked with me as I established myself in this new role.
As the first executive director of alumni and corporate relations at Whitman, there was no playbook for me to follow, but I set a few goals for my first year: meet as many of you as I possibly could, communicate regularly and increase alumni engagement through meaningful opportunities to connect with your alma mater.
I relied on my past experiences and intuition as well as the support of Whitman faculty and staff. But, mostly, I took my lead from you. Together, we achieved some significant successes:
We launched several communications vehicles and platforms for communicating and showcasing accomplished alumni, including the monthly “Alumni Connections” HTML newsletter, the “Alumni of the Week” feature and the “Entrepreneur of the Month” profile.
We created and expanded our social media channels, implemented small group discussions with alumni in various regions and provided continuing support to Whitman alumni club activities.
We brought more alumni into the classroom and identified more mentors to serve as many students as expressed an interest.
And through your support and matching gifts, we realized a 44 percent participation rate in the 2015 Whitman Graduation Challenge. This marked Whitman’s highest giving percentage to date, and we took the top spot among all other SU schools and colleges.
I am proud of the progress we have made and excited by all of the possibilities. Every day, alumni ask me how they can help. There is one simple thing every one of you can do, and that is to write a recommendation for Whitman on LinkedIn. Along the top navigation bar on our LinkedIn university page, there is a link to “Recommendations.” You can help strengthen Whitman’s reputation by sharing a few words about the positive experience you had and career connections you made during your time here. And don’t forget to include Whitman in your LinkedIn profile if you haven’t done so already.
Hopefully, I can thank many of you for a great first year during the Homecoming 2015 festivities. If I don’t see you on campus in October, perhaps I’ll see you in your hometown or at another Whitman event soon. I have many such opportunities planned for year two. Stay tuned!