Living and working in Southern
California 2,446 miles from the University of North Florida campus,
LeMaster was curious about whether there were any fellow Ospreys in the
so she logged on to the professional networking site LinkedIn and
her surprise, she found more than 130.
been out of school for almost
eight years and have yet to utilize the Alumni Association’s benefits,
thought if there are that many people living out here, I bet they would
as excited to leverage the Osprey community for support, whether it be
a new friend with Florida roots or a business contact,” she said.
LeMaster contacted fellow alumni
in the area and enlisted them to join her in petitioning UNF’s Alumni
Association to establish an alumni chapter in the Southern
that a local chapter
could play an integral role in the success and advancement of our
read the petition signed by a dozen alumni. “Even though we are across
country, we believe that staying connected and committed to our alma
enable us to soar to new heights.”
extremely proud of her Osprey roots and she knew that an alumni club
to raise awareness of the successes that are happening in the Los
by UNF alumni, while offering everyone support and business relationship
association’s board of
directors approved the chapter at its January meeting, and UNF now has
alumni clubs – one in California and one in New York. The association is
talking with alumni in Washington, D.C., about forming a club and with
in Atlanta about reforming their club as well.
may seem odd that UNF would
start alumni clubs in Los Angeles and New York City, but consider this:
two dozen universities from outside Florida have active alumni clubs in
Jacksonville, including the University of Southern California, which is
short drive from where LeMaster works as a marketing director in Hermosa
Washington State, Syracuse, Penn State, Kentucky and Notre Dame all have
in UNF’s shadow. Even the Harvard Business School has an
alumni club in
provide graduates with
an opportunity to reconnect with their alma mater and network with other
alumni. Many clubs offer something for all age groups, whether
interested in social or cultural events, athletics, philanthropy or
business contacts. They’re great for networking.
Georgia Tech club, for example,
serves as a forum for alumni, parents, family and friends
of Georgia Tech
to socialize, volunteer and even recruit and interview prospective
according to its Web site. Older colleges and universities with large
bases have formed clubs throughout the country. For example, Auburn
which was chartered in 1856, has 98 alumni clubs in 24 states. Its
club has 385 members.
which opened for classes in
1972, only has 60,239 alumni spread throughout the United States, though
live in Florida and nearly half remain on the First Coast.
Kerry N. Dunning, president of the
UNF Alumni Association, said that because the majority of UNF alums live
First Coast, it’s easy for the University to stay connected with them by
hosting lots of activities. But it’s also important for the University
connected with alums living far from campus, she said.
we stay in touch with alums,
they’re much more likely to give back,” she said. “Now, that may be
financially, and that may be in other ways. That may be talking to
Atlanta or New York about the University and sending potential students
way. But I think all of it leads back to more and more people knowing
University of North Florida, and overall that has lots of nice side
Dunning said that
when there are
pockets of alumni living in other areas there’s an advantage to bringing
together so they have a peer group of people that they can network with,
whether it’s social or business networking.
me, personally, it’s the fact
the University of North Florida has enough history now and is getting, I
say big, because it’s still a smaller-sized university, but big enough
to have an
alumni chapter in New York City, an alumni chapter in Los Angeles and,
an alumni chapter in Atlanta and maybe Washington, D.C.,” Dunning said.
makes me laugh. I just think it’s one of those wonderful things in life
think that the University has progressed that far.”
New York City club got its
start after Kim Diamon, associate director of Alumni Services, led a
young alumni on a 2008 weekend trip to the city and sent invitations to
alumni living in the area to join them at a reception.
went not really knowing what to
expect,” said Douglas Smith, who owns an art gallery in Lower Manhattan
his wife and is the person who started the New York club. “I remember
‘There are other UNF alumni here?’ I was surprised to find a
of people had shown up. Everyone got along so well that we started
about once a month on our own, and the club morphed out of that, well,
little prodding from Kim.”
New York club, which includes
alumni from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, Queens and Manhattan,
event nearly every month in a different venue. One night the group went
Cleopatra’s Needle, a jazz spot on the Upper West Side, one Saturday
alumni met in Central Park and then visited the Metropolitan Museum of
“I think my favorite was
went sailing around lower Manhattan on an 80-foot schooner,” Smith said.
and on it goes. The possibilities are endless here.”
Hall, director of Alumni
Services at UNF, said regional alumni clubs extend UNF’s
reach by giving the
University a presence in areas outside its local footprint. Members
stay connected and well informed about their alma
and serve as great ambassadors for the University.
on where a club is
located, she said, members could also serve
a legislative network throughout the state or host a variety of events
associated with athletics, which could help provide much-needed support
student athletes now that UNF is Division I.
said alumni interest in
athletic events makes it very easy to keep regional alumni connected
gives them a flag to rally around. “Almost all university alumni clubs
game-watch events if their athletic program is nationally televised,” she said.
counting on it. “With UNF showing up on ESPN these
days, we are bound
to schedule an event around that,” she said.
Southern California alumni have only met informally, but LeMaster said
planning their first official event, possibly a joint event with alumni
the University of Michigan in hopes of drawing a larger crowd. The New
hope to host a joint event with alumni from Jacksonville University,
alumni chapter doesn’t require hundreds of alumni in an area, but it
require commitment, Hall said. When the alumni population
is too spread out, or the
demographics vary greatly, or there is a lack of organization, it
need to have several alumni
with similar interests, living in a concentrated area, who are led by
committed volunteers,” she said.
really depends on the strength of the leaders and commitment of
volunteers who support them. It takes time to build a strong club, but
it’s established the rewards are great.”
information about starting an
alumni chapter in your area, call 1-800-UNF-GRAD.
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