Alumni Office Keeps Graduates in the Loop


The Alumni office recently hosted the Averett Ladies Tea for women that graduated between 1940 and 1974 in Richmond.

Allison Turner, Multimedia Editor

A lot of students are aware of the activities that happen on campus when they see posters hung up in the dorms, flyers on the tables of the cafeteria or by reading through the weekly Cougar Connection sent to their emails. Everywhere that you look, there are reminders of all the events that Averett’s campus is hosting. But what happens when you graduate and no longer have the daily reminders that you see around campus? That’s where the alumni staff help with informing and engaging alumni in campus activities, even long after they have graduated.

Dan Hayes, the director of alumni and friend development, is an Averett graduate and leads the Alumni staff with organizing events, such as the Homecoming Hometown Party held each year and other reunion events. Most recently, the Alumni staff organized an event called the Averett Ladies Tea for women that graduated between 1940 through 1974.

Along with Hayes, the alumni office is staffed by Sherry McDowell who serves as the administrative assistant to the director of alumni and friend development.

Alumni are also invited back to participate in sporting events, attend Arts at Averett events or attend a lecture as part of the Coffeehouse Lecture Series.

“The alumni office, on a larger scale, has a responsibility to keep exposing our community to the wider world,” Hayes said. “We need people to come to plays, lectures, presentations and talks and see all of the things that are going on.”

The staff focuses on keeping alumni informed through the use of social media.  They have their own Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn page. Through those platforms, they encourage alumni to wear Averett apparel to show that they are proud of their school. They also suggest that alumni display their diplomas within their offices.

“That gives us credibility because we’re attaching our diploma to your good work that your doing in that business,” he said.

In addition to social media, the alumni office also has a cell phone app called Averett that is updated regularly with events on campus and contain photos from events for those who were unable to attend.

While not practical for everyone, Hayes also says that they encourage alumni to give any money that they can back to Averett.

“It amazes me how many people say, ‘I can’t give enough to make it worth it,” he said. “But if every alumnus gave eight dollars a month, we’d have 2.2 million dollars and imagine what we could do with that.”

Hayes also emphasizes to alumni how important it is to return to campus and help current students that are in the same positions that the alumni once were. Alumni can help with mentoring students and networking to help them get jobs.

“Averett teaches you what you need to know, but the alumni office is targeted at who you need to know,” he said.

Hayes highlights how important it is for students that are entering the workforce to have someone that can vouch for them over other students they are competing against for jobs.

Alumni are also able to volunteer to host events if they would like. If someone has an idea for an event, the alumni office will ask them to help organize the event and actually make it happen.

“I had one person call and say, ‘All these alumni events are great, but they’re always on weekdays and I work those days,’ so she can’t make it to any event,” Hayes said. “What I want to do is do a Saturday afternoon event for young alumni who have a weird set of hours and she can host it.”

The Alumni office works to keep alumni involved, but their constant struggle is that they don’t have any way to reach out to alumni. Alumni move to different areas after graduation or change their email addresses which makes it harder for the staff to stay in touch.

“The easiest way is if people would call and tell us and just say, ‘I’ve got a new address,’ or ‘I’m using a new email,’” Hayes said. “If you don’t give us your address, we can’t contact you about the fun things happening.”

The alumni staff hope to continue to get alumni engaged in any way that they can, on campus or off. They even started a Day to Engage Around the World program for alumni to participate in wherever they are, especially if they aren’t able to come back to campus. The work that the alumni office does shows alumni that Averett doesn’t only care about them while they are students but also for the rest of their lives.