As the new year began, the University's Alumni Services division was putting key elements in place to upgrade and enhance connections with Baylor's more than 100,000 alumni.
New positions include a director of online groups and activities (Alan Bowden), a coordinator of Baylor club programs (Michael Black) and a coordinator of student and recent graduate programs (Rishi Sriram). Dr. Randy Lofgren, associate vice president for Alumni Services, hopes to create several other new positions within the division, including alumni officers in South and North Texas, Los Angeles and the Washington, D.C., area.
"For the alumni, we want to be the gateway to the University, and for the University, we want to be the gateway to the alumni," Dr. Lofgren said.
A major component of enhanced alumni programming will be a more interactive online presence. "Changing societal needs drive us to look at innovative ways to stay connected," Dr. Lofgren said. "We are not solely oriented to time-and-place activities."
The Web site will encourage the formation of special interest groups, or virtual communities, around such diverse topics as family needs, spiritual nurturing, career demands, hobbies and service projects. As onsite relationships develop, Dr. Lofgren believes those will translate into groups meeting together.
"We think this will be dramatic in that when people become friends online, it will promote opportunities to gather as an interest group offline, as well, and hopefully bring groups back to the campus for occasional reunions," he said.
Efforts also are under way to strengthen existing Baylor clubs and chapters throughout the nation. The coordinator of Baylor club programs will be available to help groups facilitate new ways of convening based on member input and needs. "We will continue to provide resources and support to our geographically based clubs, as well as encourage the development of new strategies for forming Baylor communities," Dr. Lofgren said.
Alumni Services also will be gearing up its efforts to serve current students and recent graduates. A recently chartered student group, Alumni in the Making (AIM), will interact with a program designed for new graduates and another age-based program being developed for alumni ages 24 to 35 to be called Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD). Each group will serve as mentors to the younger age group, providing informal counseling on everything from making initial professional contacts to choosing the best city or neighborhood in which to live.
"It will all start dovetailing together in a chronological continuum of alumni experiences," Dr. Lofgren said. "Once that happens, it will help us determine what perceived needs are at different points in an alum's life and how we can best meet those needs. When we bring all these new elements together, we will have a synergy that will be dynamic in bringing quality services to our alumni."