Survey shows Emory alumni loyal, seek deeper current connections

By Maria Lameiras | Emory Report | May 28, 2014

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These are the top five activities that would make Emory alumni feel more connected to the University, as revealed in a new survey.

Across demographic groups and generations, Emory's alumni are loyal to their alma mater and willing to extol it to others, but they want to feel more of a connection to faculty, current students and fellow alumni.

EAA Candlelight Crossing

During the annual Candlelight Crossover, new graduates join the ranks of Emory alumni. A recent survey shows alumni want to stay connected to the University long after their time on campus ends. Emory Photo/Video.

These revelations were among the results of a survey conducted earlier this year by the Performance Enhancement Group and commissioned by the Emory Alumni Association (EAA) to gauge alumni attitudes toward the university. The survey was the second of three to be conducted over five years by the group to help the EAA understand how alumni perceive and use their services. Results of the last survey, in 2012, were examined in a series of stories in Emory Magazine.

"Since the last survey, and with the reinforcement of this one, we continue to emphasize professional development resources for alumni and opportunities for alumni to connect with one another and build their Emory networks," says Sarah Cook, senior associate vice president for alumni affairs.

According to this year's survey, alumni say they are happy they chose to attend Emory, had good experiences as students and left the university well prepared for graduate school, careers and community involvement. Correspondingly, 37 percent say they promote Emory at least occasionally to others, while 59 percent recommend the university regularly or "all the time."

Among the factors that influence respondents' overall current opinion of Emory, value and respect for degree top the list, followed by the accomplishments of faculty and students, providing scholarships for qualified students, accomplishments of fellow alumni, and Emory's outreach to the community.

Emory is in the midst of a scholarship initiative that will give the University a competitive edge in recruiting the most qualified students by providing scholarship support at levels that meet or exceed those at peer institutions.

"Sixty-five percent of respondents say Emory's ability to provide scholarship support for students influences their opinion of Emory. This initiative is meant to make Emory accessible to the most highly qualified students who will contribute in the classroom and then to the greater society," says Susan Cruse, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. "This reinforces that we are investing in the areas alumni are telling us are the most valuable to them and we are encouraging and inviting more alumni to be involved."

Keeping alumni connected

While use of Emory's alumni benefits and services had the least sway over respondents' opinion of the university, most respondents say they would welcome more information on career and professional-related activities, their specific school's programs and invitations to alumni activities.

"We are working on better sharing Emory's story and those things we are doing to reconnect alumni with campus and the amazing things that are happening here," Cook says. "Our alumni had overwhelmingly positive experiences at Emory and we want to continue to foster them as active members of the Emory community regardless of where they live. We are doing this by improving our communication of events, services, and opportunities for alumni involvement."

One of the programs the EAA offers is monthly Coach Chat webinars designed to help alumni at all career levels navigate their professional and personal lives. The EAA's department of Alumni Career Services offers career resources, online networking, job postings, recruitment of Emory-educated talent and volunteer opportunities for alumni.

"The positive feelings of our alumni about Emory came through loud and clear in the survey. The majority had great student experiences and they have wonderful feelings about the faculty they learned from and the organizations they participated in," Cook says. "It is our role to help them reconnect and renew that feeling through the opportunities we provide for them to participate and reengage in a way that keeps them connected to Emory. "