Robert Greenwood says he can think of literally a thousand existing activities undertaken by Memorial University which could be enhanced by more effectively engaging its alumni.
The executive director of the university’s Office of Public Engagement was in Corner Brook Thursday for a consultation session on a new strategy to make better connections with Memorial’s graduates.
There are currently some 95,000 Memorial alumni spread all around the world, though most are still in Newfoundland and Labrador. Many of them are experts in their fields and Greenwood believes they would be more than willing to help current students and faculty achieve the university’s mandates of teaching, learning and research.
While the university’s department of alumni affairs has been busy fostering these sorts of relationships through the years, Greenwood said it still remains a virtually untapped resource that should be engaged much further.
“If you ask people for advice or connections in a particular industry or area, they are eager to help, especially if it’s someone from back at MUN where they did a degree,” he said. “Very few will turn you down. So, we’re trying to put in place a series of supports, programs and communications to do more of that.”
The growth of technology and social media makes these alumni more accessible and will play a big part in the outreach.
Not all of those tens of thousands of alumni are experts in their field and some may not even be working in the discipline they studied at Memorial. Greenwood said the strategy aims to engage those people, too, by making the university’s lifelong learning activities more accessible to and inclusive of the community in general.
Some people may wish to learn a new language, find out more about healthy living or discover more about history, heritage, music or fine arts.
“There are lots of ways our activities can help people in their careers, or as volunteers in their community or with their families,” he said. “We can be making it more available in a more accessible way and alumni are an obvious audience we can connect with in a meaningful way.”
The consultation session held in Corner Brook Thursday, which was attended by about a dozen people, was one of the final stages of the process to develop the new alumni engagement strategy.
Greenwood and his team will do a final consultation with Memorial’s senior leadership next week before a working committee within the university reviews all the findings and produces the final draft version of the strategy.
The final version will then be run by two working groups external to the university, including one in the province and one outside it, before the final edits are made.
The final product should be released by the summer, said Greenwood.