Alumni Relations’ October 2009 survey of graduates yielded over 1,600 responses that identified three areas of alumni engagement to focus on; alumni communications, volunteerism and regional alumni chapters.
According to Daniel Nugent, director of Alumni Engagement, Alumni Relations contracted the PEG Group to conduct the survey.
Nugent said PEG is well-known in the Alumni Relations field.
“They have worked with more than 160 colleges and universities to survey graduates about a wide-range of issues,” Nugent said. “A benefit to using PEG was that Seton Hall could easily compare responses with other schools, to see how our student and alumni experience compares. As you can see from the results, we seem to be right on track with our peer institutions.”
More than 13,000 invitations to participate in the survey were mailed and e-mailed to a random sampling of the University’s alumni, according to Nugent. The survey was launched on University Day of 2009 and was available on the Seton Hall website for 30 days.
The main categories in the survey included communication, current and future alumni programs and loyalty, according to Nugent.
“The survey asked a variety of questions about the Seton Hall student experience, the alumni experience, various communications, opinions on University issues and operations, feelings toward various aspects of the University community and opinions on how Seton Hall can best serve its graduates,” Nugent said.
Nugent explained that Alumni Relations has increased the University’s engagement of its graduates over the past several years. The survey had a three-fold use for Alumni Relations: to gage the alumni’s satisfaction with the events, programs and opportunities of Alumni Relations, provide another opportunity to hear the opinions of alumni and to use their responses to assist in further alumni engagement planning.
“It’s important for Alumni Relations to offer the kinds of programs that alumni want and need,” Nugent said. “The survey gave us great information regarding both how our future plans are in-sync with what alumni want, and areas where we need to focus more attention.”
Nugent said Alumni Relations felt there were three specific areas of alumni engagement identified through the surveys to focus on. “Alumni engagement” are the areas that keep alumni informed about Seton Hall, involved with programs and activities and invested in the University’s future.
“Our alumni communications are the first, and probably most important area, they are the gateway for alumni to everything that takes place at Seton Hall,” Nugent said.
Nugent said the University and its graduates must have an open and on-going dialogue with each other, and it is the job of the Alumni Relations team to foster that dialogue.
“The survey showed us that alumni are satisfied with our communications, but that there are specific areas where we can do better,” Nugent said. “Overall, I think what we’re hearing is that we can improve the way we communicate about the good things that are already taking place at Seton Hall, and to make sure that alumni are aware of all of the programs and services available to them.
According to Nugent, the second area of volunteerism is crucial because it is “one of the most meaningful ways that alumni can stay connected to Seton Hall is by giving of their time and talents.”
“Every day alumni serve the University by recruiting prospective students, serving on boards and participating in planning a variety of events around the country,” Nugent said. “Alumni have told us that they want more opportunities for this kind of involvement with Seton Hall.”
In relation to this goal, in the fall of 2010, Alumni Relations launched a new volunteer management program, focusing on identifying and marketing volunteer opportunities for alumni, Nugent said.
Finally, Alumni Relations’ goal is build a national alumni network by creating regional chapters around the country and the world. They are developing new ways to involve alumni who live far from campus to work toward that goal, according to Nugent.
Alumni Relations has always focused on these three areas, Nugent said, and the survey enforces that they are working in the right direction. Based on the survey results, Alumni Relations has specific areas to focus more and less on.
“Alumni Relations is always focused on providing great customer service and meaningful experiences and programs to our graduates,” Nugent said. “By incorporating the survey results into our planning programs we hope to continue to engage more alumni in more ways with Seton Hall.”
Brittany Biesiada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org