Real Life “Alumni Engagement”

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I’m going to let you in on a Vinick family tradition. Each Valentine’s Eve I get a phone call from my mom, and before I even pick up I know what’s about to happen. I’m going to hear the story of the year my mom moved to Boston and attended the monthly Harvard mixers with the intent of meeting a man. She tells me this each year with the hope that I’ll follow in her footsteps with the 2013 version of mixers: dating sites. (Spoiler alert: she didn’t end up meeting anyone special at those mixers, but she did meet my step-dad on a dating site.)

So, as EverTrue’s newest (and single-est) team member, this Valentine’s Day I had this crazy idea of schools helping alumni find each other. Apparently, I’m not the only one. If you do a quick search of “alumni dating sites” you will stumble upon IvyDate, the name is self-explanatory, or HBCUlove, a dating site that connects students and alumni of historically black colleges and universities. In a world where Match, eHarmony, and newcomers such as okcupid, Grouper and tinder are the new “Harvard mixers,” it would only seem natural that Harvard would finally get in the game.

While many schools have turned to the web to help their alumni find one another, some schools don’t need a dating site to facilitate budding relationships.

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is one of the oldest schools in the country and the campus is steeped in traditions and superstitions. If you step on The Seal, you’ll fail your next exam. If you rub The Turtle’s head, you will get good luck. And if you kiss your significant other under the Upham Arch at midnight, you will become a Miami Merger. Yes, they have a name for it. Married Miami alumni are called Miami Mergers, and the school boasts one of the largest percentages of married alumni in the country: about 14%. The Alumni Association has taken this statistic and capitalized on the opportunity to build relationships with these alumni once they leave campus.

Image Credit: Miami University

A tradition started in 1973, Miami Mergers receive a Valentine’s Day card each year from the school to celebrate their marriage and the place they met. According to the Miami University Alumni Association, the school sent out more than 27,000 Miami Merger valentines this year – and it’s not only a card these alumni will be seeing in their mailbox.

This year, Miami sent its Mergers a gift along with their ever-changing Valentine’s Day card. The 2013 gift is a set of coasters with a series of haiku poems that “capture the story of how Miamians meet, fall in love, and seal it with a kiss underneath the Upham Arch.”  The website has an archive of past year’s Valentine’s cards and each year is cuter than the next. I am lucky enough to have a roommate who is a Miami University alumna and she can tell you, there are many current students who learn about the Miami Merger tradition as freshmen and long to join the ranks of this select group of alumni. No wonder the percentage keeps growing – over the past five years alone the percentage has grown 4%.

It’s certainly a cute idea, and not one that every school can recreate, but it provides a great lesson about the importance of continuing to build relationships with your alumni once they receive their diploma. You can bet that each couple looks forward to receiving their Miami Valentine every year to remind them of the place they met and once called home.

And with that, I leave you with a Valentine’s poem from our very own Brent Grinna, CEO and Founder of EverTrue.

“Roses are red, violets are blue, you are very special, we are EverTrue.”

 

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