beTrue Bulletin: March 8th, 2013

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This week’s bulletin is chock-full of great examples of student-alumni engagement, how South by Southwest’s Education Conference and Festival is redefining how to best utilize social media for higher education and an important lesson on the purpose of alumni relations.

South By Southwest Education Conference and Festival
Let’s kick things off with a shout out to SXSW’s Education Conference and Festival which ended yesterday with the Keynote speech by Bill Gates. The three-day long event included book signings, conversations about innovations in education such as MOOCs, and several panels on mobile and social media in the classroom and in higher education. One of the panels that caught our eye was “Social Media in Higher Education”. Even though we couldn’t be there to see it live, one of the panelists gave us a sneak peek at what the panel would be talking about. Questions ranged from “what does a successful social media strategy look like” to “what role should institutions play in engaging students with social media” and we even got to take a look at the slide deck from the panel. Flip through the slides below and let us know what you think might have been missing from the conversation.  You can join the conversation on Twitter by using the #sxswedu hashtag or see what SXSWedu attendees are saying here.

Measuring Alumni Engagement

Our friend Andy Shaindlin, the Associate VP for Alumni Relations & Annual Giving at Carnegie Mellon University, recently presented at the CASE District VII Conference in San Francisco, CA. His talk on measuring alumni engagement focused on the state of alumni relations and the risks that arise when we measure alumni engagement. While thinking about alumni relations he realized “(i)n a way, alumni relations is similar to the humanities. Like the humanities, alumni relations is under scrutiny. Every dollar invested, every staff hour worked, every event, is being assessed to see whether it is generating something called ‘engagement’”. This scrutinized relationship between effort and engagement led Andy to this analogy: “Engagement is to alumni affairs what economic output is to the humanities” – sounds like a part of the old, and dreaded, SAT tests. But he’s raising a good point: the fact is that we should be focused on the relationships that come out of alumni relations, rather than the fundraising outcomes.

CASE Affiliated Student Advancement Program’s Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day
We told you we’d have more to say about CASE ASAP’s first Student Engagement and Philanthropy Day and we are certainly not the only ones. Last Thursday proved to be a huge success for schools all over the world who participated in this new endeavor. CASE wrote their own recap of the day but we wanted to highlight a few schools and programs that really knocked it out of the park on February 28th and, for that matter, every other day of the year. The excitement about SEP Day was tangible on Twitter and spilled over onto campuses big and small. The Student-Alumni Council at The Ohio State University encouraged students to stop and write thank you notes to their professors and mentors. This organization believes in encouraging student engagement everyday as proven by the video below and the “Paying it Forward” events they hold throughout the school year.

But they aren’t the only school that got in on the action. Villanova University’s Student Alumni Association created “I Love Villanova Day” that invited students to share why they love their school with pictures taken in the “I Love Villanova” photobooth and encouraged seniors to make their first contribution to the class gift. Their efforts were not only recognized by EverTrue but by The Washington Examiner (p.3 of the Education section). The article they wrote, “College Students to Recognize Donors’ Impact” noted that thanks to the University’s efforts to educate students about the importance of giving “(p)articipation to the senior class gift program has grown from 32% to 42% in the past two years”. Sounds like with the help of CASE’s Student Engagement and Philanthropy day, this giving rate could keep growing.

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