College searches for new ways to interact with alumni
Homecoming draws thousands of alumni from across the country to Franklin’s campus every year.
Prior to that day, President Thomas Minar and the college’s alumni office spend months working to prepare for their arrival.
“The college, every year, takes a look at the kind of outreach that it wants to accomplish with alumni and the kind of strategy it wants to have,” Minar said. “For example, homecoming here has a very deep trench and is a deep tradition and is something that’s important to many alumni. So it’s something we try to sharpen and make sure we’re making the most strategic use of.”
But Minar said alumni do a lot more than just attend the traditional homecoming festivities and reminisce on the glory days.
“Alumni have an impact on the life of the college,” Minar said. “It’s important in a community like this to engage alumni, but we’re really not just doing it to be nice. We’re doing it to assure that alumni engage in the life of the college for the rest of their lives.”
From hiring students once they graduate to giving them opportunities to advise student organizations, Minar said alumni impact extends farther than one could imagine.
But alumni involvement hasn’t always been high.
“In the time I have been here, over the past seven to eight years, alumni involvement has increased tremendously,” said Joanne Sergi, director of alumni engagement.
Sergi attributes the increased involvement to a variety of factors, including the faculty’s interaction with former students.
“It’s been strategic on the faculty’s behalf,” she said. “They actually have done a lot of outreach to students that have graduated from their studies. We obviously encourage it, too, but I think the credit goes to the faculty on that.”
Minar said he is very impressed with the degree of alumni involvement at Franklin College compared to other schools.
“Alumni are very committed to the success of the institution, as they should be,” he said. “I think that alumni here take appropriate involvement to make sure the institution is at the top of its game.”
Additionally, Minar said they play huge roles in the lives of students nearing the end of their schooling.
“As the faculty is considering significant curricular change right now, a big piece of what that new curriculum would revolve around is advancement of engaged, experiential learning in the student experience,” he said. “We need alumni to be part of that because, again, alumni own and operate and work in significant sites that are great interests to students in terms of where liberal arts and science education intersect with the world of work.”
Alumni and seniors at Franklin College are encouraged to attend the college’s networking event in the spring. Minar said seniors typically leave the event with business cards or interviews set with alumni who could become potential employers.
The college also has a 33-member alumni council that reports to the Board of Trustees. The alumni on the council are involved in advising the college on alumni engagement and the life of the college.
“What Franklin College students look forward to most is being a part of that lifelong community, and that’s very real to Grizzlies,” Minar said. “That’s something that’s really important to folks in our community. It’s very personal. But I know this experience here is that personal.”