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Baylor Network offers alumni chance to stay in touch with alma mater

Oct. 28, 2005

by KRISTEN PILCHER, reporter

Homecoming's a time for alumni to reunite for fellowship and celebration on the campus of their alma mater.

But many alumni want to participate in Baylor-sponsored events more than once a year, and the Baylor Network can provide graduates with these opportunities.

For the last two years, the Network has been giving graduates the opportunity to have a "mini-homecoming" every month by organizing alumni groups and activities in cities across the nation.

John Bievenour, a 2003 graduate working as an information technology administrator for The Insurance Exchange, got involved with the Dallas Baylor Network after receiving an e-mail inviting him to a monthly meeting of alumni in his area.

"I attended the meeting because it was a good way to transition from going to Baylor and having friends everywhere and things to do all the time," Bievenour said. "After college, it was weird because I didn't have all of those people around anymore. The Network's good because I get to be around people I feel comfortable with."

As a part of Baylor's University Relations division, Network coordinators strive to connect alumni in more than 24 states and in four different countries. There are groups in Texas, Arkansas, California, New York, Oklahoma and more.

Dr. Randy Lofgren, associate vice president for The Baylor Network, said more than 15,000 alumni have participated in Network-sponsored events like lectures, mixers, picnics, game-watching parties, women's council meetings and luncheons in the last year.

"All activities are volunteer-driven and staff supported," Lofgren said. "The Network concept gathers people around their interests. There's no fundraising mission or membership obligation. The Network's a service to all alumni and friends."

Hillary Maxwell, a 2000 graduate, is working as a political appointee to the office of communications and outreach for the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. She moved to the district after graduation and immediately became involved with the local Network group. Now Maxwell is one of the head coordinators for alumni involvement in her area.

"I attend almost every event," Maxwell said. "There are about 2,500 alumni of all ages in the Washington, D.C., area, and our group's trying to encompass all of them. We have a flag football team in the winter and a softball team in the spring.

"Our group also participates in Steppin' Out projects, Baylor game-watching parties, Christmas parties and more. We've done Diadeloso for the last few years, and we also have mixers on the third Thursday of every month," he said.

Maxwell said the flag football and softball teams are a highlight of the district's alumni program.

"We play against graduates from other universities, including the University of Texas and Texas A&M, which strengthens our relations with each other and other alumni," she said. "I try to encourage people to come out to the games even if they're not playing because it's a good way to meet people."

Maxwell said it's important to have a strong alumni group in her area because many graduates move to the district without knowing anyone else.

"The people who move here don't have a lot of ties to the area other than their job," she said. "So they come to our events and are able to reflect on their Baylor experiences together. So many people who didn't know each other at Baylor are now friends because of the Network events they've attended."

Brent Edwards, coordinator of sports activities, the Musician's Network and the Minister's Network, said many of the Network-sponsored alumni groups participate in sports "aftermurals" like Maxwell's group in Washington, D.C.

"A broad cross-section of Baylor graduates and friends demonstrate a high degree of interest in sports as a leisure activity, and particularly like to follow Baylor's athletic teams," Edwards said.

Bievenour's involvement in the Dallas Network focuses less on sports-related activities and more on service projects. He recently became the co-chairman for Steppin' Out in his area.

"We're trying to start holding Steppin' Out events once a month," Bievenour said. "We'll do a community service project one month and then something fun like bowling the next month."

This month, Bievenour's group will volunteer at the Dallas Children's Museum's BOOseum event on Saturday afternoon. Bievenour said the Dallas Network events have been a great way to keep in touch with other alumni.

"It's great to talk to people you feel comfortable with and reminisce about Baylor together," he said.