Alumni outreach at the University of Alberta

A little over a month ago, Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2009 was announced and I was fortunate enough to make the list. So many people have said “congrats” in tweets, wall posts, emails, and other messages, and I really appreciate all of them, thank you! I was somewhat surprised, however, to receive a letter and a follow-up email from the University of Alberta’s Office of External Relations.

The letter itself was fairly standard, and basically said that as I am a graduate of the University they wanted to offer congratulations. The email was from Jen Panteluk, a Development Officer at the Office of External Relations. She invited me to meet for coffee, and I happily accepted. We met at Credo Coffee yesterday afternoon and had a great chat about what I do, what she does, and about social media and the University of Alberta.

I learned that Jen is meeting with as many U of A grads on the list as she can, and that the idea to do so was hers. Alumni Affairs rightly or wrongly has a reputation of only reaching out to alumni when they are able to contribute back to the University financially. Jen decided to do something about that perception, and that’s why she pitched the idea of meeting with the Top 40 Under 40 grads. I think it’s fantastic!

Jen and I talked about social media quite a bit, and how effectively local schools are using it. Slowly but surely the various U of A departments are starting to embrace social media. For instance, you can keep up with Alumni Affairs on Twitter and on Facebook. There’s a long way to go, however!

If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #ualberta for U of A related stuff. SU President Kory Mathewson and his colleagues are hoping it becomes the standard, because it’s less ambiguous than the rival #uofa. Makes sense to me!

4 thoughts on “Alumni outreach at the University of Alberta

  1. Thanks for the shout out. That is wonderful. I did not know that you were a U of A Alumni, but I think it is great to build the network of Alumni to include recently graduate individuals as well. All too often Alumni is seen as a group of long ago graduates, and I hope through the work that you and Jen do, that the University can work to shift that. And who knows, in mere months I will be a recent grad as well…

  2. It’s funny how there are varying levels of acceptance of social media at the University.
    I took an education course on integrating technology into the classroom, and there was content on social media.
    However, as an example of how school policies can hinder how technology is used in the classroom, the instructor told us he’d previously had a Facebook page/group for the course, but had to take it down because of a no Facebook Policy his teaching department had. He also had a Twitter account going for the course for a while but had to take it down because it wasn’t authorized by the proper authorities. He told us he’d also looked into podcast beauracratic asting for the course, but didn’t feel like going through all the loops just to get that done.
    This was a class on integrating technology into the classroom, and University, department and faculty policies were preventing the instructor from actually demonstrating how technology could be used in the classroom.
    Having policies in regards to what can and can’t be done with social media is a good idea, but they should never completely prevent their use.

  3. “Alumni Affairs rightly or wrongly has a reputation of only reaching out to alumni when they are able to contribute back to the University financially. Jen decided to do something about that perception, and that’s why she pitched the idea of meeting with the Top 40 Under 40 grads.”

    You don’t seem to be considering the possibility that reaching out to Top 40 Under 40 “grads” is a thinly veiled attempt to cozy up with alumni who are likely to be even more successful in the future, in the hopes they will one day be able and willing to financially contribute to the University. (Cynicism, yes. But probably not misplaced cynicism.)

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