The commencement tent has been taken down, diplomas have been given out and the party has come to an end. You probably think your impact at Castleton is over, right? Wrong.
“You will be an alumn for a lot longer than you’re a student,” said Ceil Hunt, Alumni Association president.
Castleton’s Alumni Office has over 13,000 alumni in its database and over 100 alumni currently employed by the college in some capacity. The challenge, office officials say, is maintaining a connection with those thousands of individuals who range in age from their 20s to their 90s.
Alumni often forget to update the college when they move or when they change email addresses. Many do not realize their Castleton email accounts are still active and therefore miss important messages regarding alumni activities, alumni officials said.
As the Alumni Office steps into the 21st century, however, updating alum about college activities and vice versa might not be such a difficult process.
Although the office uses many methods of communication, Vy Swenson, director of Parent and Alumni Relations, said most alumni are notified of events through the magazine, which is sent out twice annually.
“You’re talking about decades, centuries of people who communicate differently,” said Katye Munger, director of Digital Media. “It’s not about figuring out how you contact all your alumni, because you’re not going to find one solution to talk to all of them. We will reach different people if we send them an email, if we send them a letter, if we call them.”
Alumni contributions are crucial to the college’s success because alumni support the scholarship fund, maintain traditions and most importantly, provide current students with networking opportunities.
In November, the Alumni Association, in connection with career services, will be holding its annual senior social where current seniors meet with past graduates who are working in their desired field.
“That personal connection makes a huge difference,” Swenson said. “That’s our goal, to have as many alumni be able to reach out to even one student. They could change their life.”
According to an article on Salary.com, 48 percent of Americans found their current job through word of mouth. The opportunity to meet alumni who are already working in their desired field can be huge for that current student’s success, Swenson said.
When it comes time to plan events such as the senior social, Hunt and the other organizers struggle to find enough willing alumni in all fields of study.
If all goes as planned, alumni will soon have an easier time staying connected to their alma mater.
“We just revamped our website over the summer and launched that in August,” Munger said. “We’re working right now on further developing the alumni section of the website.”
It is unclear at the moment what the web page will include, but the goal is for it to be interactive and to motivate alums to be as involved as possible with current students or other alumni, officials said.
The current webpage, which can be accessed from the main Castleton site, has a place for alumni to update their contact information and donate money. There are also mini profiles of alummi who are “proud of Castleton and credit Castleton with a lot of their success,” Swenson said.
A goal for the new webpage would be to keep alumni up to date on Castleton events like sporting events and art exhibits.
“They could go to the site and find out what’s happening here on campus,” Hunt said. “Alumni weekend is a great weekend to come back, but come back any time.”
The feature Hunt is most excited about adding to the website is a page to nominate outstanding alumni. Each fall, two individuals are recognized as outstanding alumni: one award for someone who has been graduated for less than 10 years and one for someone who has been graduated for more than 10 years.
“We usually put it in the magazine, but we would really like an online presence so they could fill out the form right there online, anytime,” Hunt said.
Munger explained that there is still quite a bit of planning to do before the webpage can be created and available for viewing, but work is being done and the alumni office wants to get alums excited about this step into the future.