Why Alumni Futures?
To explore ideas, trends and new directions in education, communication, community engagement and online interaction.
That's the short answer. Here's a longer answer:
In the early 1990s I created an email discussion group for about eight colleagues from other universities' alumni offices. I used a popular software program called Listserv and I named the group ALUMNI-L.
ALUMNI-L attracted many more people worldwide, and after a couple of years the list had grown to 1,000 members. I was glad that so many people found the online discussions useful, and in 1998 I turned ALUMNI-L over to my professional organization, CASE.
For all its enthusiastic participants, ALUMNI-L's original purpose has a built-in limitation: most of the time, members share examples of past programs.
Focusing on the past hinders innovation, while the information being shared becomes outdated. Meanwhile, in "the real world," people are interacting in new and unfamiliar ways, but many organizations replicate each others' past practice without asking whether they will be relevant in the future.
The Birth of Alumni Futures
Sitting in the library one afternoon in early 2007, avoiding some tedious graduate school research, I decided to create a blog. I had never even read a blog, much less written one, but a little research showed that nobody else in alumni work was blogging. That afternoon I set up the site and wrote the first post and Alumni Futures came to life.
I created Alumni Futures as a place to propose or promote ideas that require new ways of working and thinking. Rather than ask, "What did you do last year?" I have tried to explore what you might do next year (or in five or ten years).
My speaking and consulting practice was a logical extension of the Alumni Futures mission.
NOTE: In 2011 I joined Carnegie Mellon University as Associate Vice President for Advancement, and Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations & Annual Giving. Although consulting projects are now rare, I still give occasional speeches and presentations, so please contact me at [email protected] to inquire about availability.
Past and current clients of Alumni Futures include (partial listing):
Colleges, Universities, and Schools
Cal Alumni Association (UC Berkeley), The Dalton School, Berkeley Preparatory School, National University of Singapore, Harvey Mudd College, Nanyang Technological University, University of Technology – Sydney, The University of Waterloo, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Reed College, the University of Exeter (UK), the University of Virginia Engagement Community, and Williams College
The Association Française des Fundraisers (France), the Rhodes Trust (UK), Students on Ice (Canada), USA Baseball, Alumni Professionals of Texas, PCUAD, and Educate Plus (Australia and New Zealand)
Invited expert for Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, Illuminate Consulting Group, the European Association for International Education, and CASE (Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific).
Some numbers: As of September 2012 Alumni Futures has hosted approximately 385 articles and more than 800 comments. 1,900 Twitter users follow @alumnifutures, and 528 fans have "Liked" Alumni Futures on Facebook.
Some trivia about me: I love baseball, air travel, and marine traffic, and I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with my wife, my daughter and our two dogs.