I arrived in the corner office of the Elliott Alumni Center last November knowing my charge was to meaningfully engage more of UNH's 126,000 alumni in the life of this fine university. I had ideas of how to go about that but was less certain of how enthusiastic our alumni would be about the plans I'd developed with my talented colleagues on the Alumni Association staff and the devoted volunteer board of directors who guide us. Well, in 10 short months I've learned that a great many UNH alums have quite a passion for their alma mater!
You told us so by coming out in force for a pregame reception on a snowy Saturday in Philadelphia as our football team prepared to do battle against Villanova in the NCAA playoffs. You showed us by coming out to meet fellow alumni and hear from President Mark Huddleston at December alumni chapter holiday receptions in New York, Boston and Portsmouth. You descended upon Stillings Hall in numbers more than 700 for a spaghetti dinner in advance of a men's hockey game in January. You welcomed us to alumni events in Florida and Arizona in February and March. You joined us in Huddleston Hall in April to bestow our highest award, the Pettee Medal, to one of New Hampshire's finest native sons, Steve Taylor '62. Many of you helped us start Commencement Weekend with a bang by volunteering to serve lobsters to more than 1,100 graduating seniors on Boulder Field! And to help usher in the summer, hundreds of you (some returning to campus for the first time in 60 years) came in June for your class reunions.
Attending events is not the only meaningful way to engage with UNH. Many of you volunteer significant hours throughout the year by showing up on campus to serve as mentors to current students through the Pathways program, or to volunteer your time and expertise in other ways, as the story about David Ball '07 and James McDermott '05 on the facing page demonstrates. By reading this wonderful magazine you are learning more about the university and fellow alumni and hopefully becoming an even stronger advocate. Growing numbers of you engage in a dialogue with the magazine, whether it's through letters to the editor, comments posted on online articles, news for Class Notes, participation in alumni anecdote stories, or feedback and story ideas to the magazine's editors. Tens of thousands of you have created profiles and signed up for alumni e-mail forwarding addresses on Wildcat World, the alumni website; many have volunteered for, or searched, the online career network. And thousands of alumni have joined UNH's social networking groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Alumni Association is about connecting alumni with each other and with UNH in mutually beneficial ways. I like to think of alumni relations along the lines of an extensive (but not necessarily expensive!) menu at a restaurant. Our goal is to offer you as full a "menu" as possible, loaded with different ways of connecting with one another and staying involved in the life of UNH. I'm willing to bet that at least a few items on our menu might catch your fancy. Take a peek at www.alumni.unh. edu—there's something in it for you. As always, I welcome your thoughts or suggestions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for sharing your passion for UNH! ~
In the Spotlight: The Gift of Time
Alumni volunteers find many ways to reconnect with UNH
By Rachel M. Collins '81
Photos by Perry Smith/UNH Photographic Services
New York City firefighter James McDermott '05 says he can't imagine losing his connection to UNH. "When I first got to UNH, I didn't really connect with the spirit of the school," McDermott says. "But towards the end of my education I got a grasp of what UNH is all about and since then I've always wanted to go back and be a part of the community."
Pro football wide receiver David Ball '07 shares the same desire to give back. And they are not alone. According to Steve Donovan, executive director of the Alumni Association, many alumni are reconnecting to UNH by volunteering, becoming mentors, attending events and networking.
"Our hope is that it's a mutually beneficial relationship," he says. "It's a huge benefit for the university to have alumni be engaged, and it's a benefit for alumni to stay connected with the university and other alums, expanding their personal and professional networks."
Many alumni volunteer to serve on boards with their department or college, or give talks to classes; more than 20 WSBE alumni, for example, spoke to students on the day before Homecoming 2010.
For Ball, giving back means teaching yoga to current football players. "A main reason I was able twice a week to current football players while he was taking classes at UNH to become certified as a K-12 physical education teacher. This spring he would like to increase the sessions to three times a week and open them to all student athletes.
"UNH has given me so much and helped me any time I've needed it," he says. "If I can continue to be a part of UNH, I'll be ecstatic."
For McDermott, it all started with his connection with the New York City alumni chapter. Asked if he would like to work with UNH's Leadership Camp, a five-day annual training program for 50 students, he jumped at the opportunity.
He now wishes he had taken advantage of this kind of training while at UNH. "When you're a student you don't always recognize the value of all of these programs," he said. "I know I didn't."
Although he may not have benefitted from Leadership Camp as a student, McDermott recognizes an opportunity to give back as an alum when he sees one. That's why—even though he lives hundreds of miles away—the next time he hears a call for volunteer help from his alma mater, it's a good bet he'll answer it. ~blog comments powered by Disqus