In a recent online discussion, Ivan Low of Singapore Management University asked fellow alumni professionals the following question: Do graduates of short-duration executive education programs qualify as alumni?
The definition of "alumni" is arbitrary and varies among institutions. It's not unheard of for people who have completed, say, a six-week executive education program to be included as "alumni" of a business school.
I recently discussed this with some advancement professionals who expressed concern that treating executive education participants as alumni somehow cheapens the MBA or PhD degree from the business school.
Does treating certificate students as alumni detract from the value of the graduate degree?
Not necessarily. Resources allocated to supporting the activities and services provided to the six-week folks should be proportional to
- the scale of the students' academic effort;
- the fraction of the overall alumni population they comprise; and
- their overall importance to the institution.
This last point is tricky, as it carries clear implications for fundraising. If a Fortune 100 CEO dropped in for a 6-week refresher on your campus, he or she would be a legitimate target for relationship-building, cultivation, and ultimately, fundraising.
Do you agree or disagree? What's missing from this brief analysis?