Alumni Connections

In the previous issue of Transformations, Alumni Association President Bill Krein ’62 introduced the Association’s new strategic structure. He also called on alumni to roll up their sleeves and build on the WPI legacy that helped launch them in their own careers. In this second installment, Krein explains why alumni are the greatest untapped resource that WPI has.

What are the top priorities for the WPI Alumni Association?

The Alumni Association remains strongly focused on alumni engagement, career services (in conjunction with WPI’s Career Development Center), and support of the upcoming capital campaign. The Board of Trustees recently adopted a resolution in support of the campaign, and we intend to take a similar action. Another initiative of particular interest is enacting a commitment to substantially increase scholarship funding.

You’ve spoken of a new model for alumni engagement . . .

Yes, we need to engage all alumni—whether it’s through advisory boards, committees, events, or regional chapters—and begin to find ways to grow involvement.With new informationsharing technologies, we can leverage the talents of alumni who are busy, who have careers and family, and who can’t travel to campus easily, but who still want to help. The vision is for the staff of the alumni office to provide a central point of contact. There’s a need and a role for everyone. It’s as simple as that.

We also need to take a look at how we’re asking alumni to help. If the only contact you have is a phone call asking for money every five years, understandably, you might become a bit jaundiced. But if we ask you to share your talents and experience, then you’ll want to stay involved. What we’ve found in the past is that when members of the alumni community have turned to each other for advice, people are perfectly willing to help.

Beyond what alumni can offer to each other, how are they poised to serve their alma mater, as WPI endeavors to expand its reputation nationally?

Up to now, the Association has been largely an inward-looking organization. With the arrival of President Dennis Berkey and Dexter Bailey, vice president for development and alumni relations, the question became: What can the Alumni Association do to catch up with and support WPI’s great strides?

We, the collective alumni body, represent a tremendous resource—not only in financial capital, but in experience and expertise. We are a deep and broad source of information. There are exciting possibilities for alumni to serve as a sounding board to the administration. We are in a position to advise and inform the Trustees and the President’s Office, and to present the voice of alumni. While we still want to represent the interests of alumni, we also want to engage them to be a part of the development and advancement of WPI.

How do you envision people and technology working together to link alumni to the campus community?

Here’s a perfect example: When Team 190, the WPI-sponsored robotics team, took top honors in the national FIRST finals in Palo Alto, Calif., last year, it showed the world what WPI is all about. You can’t see that and not be proud of your alma mater. The Alumni Association hosted a reception where local alumni could meet the students on the team and their advisors. We now have the means to get the word out to everyone, rapidly, on our new alumni website, and through electronic mailings that are available to all alumni who furnish an email address to the alumni office. We’ve got the capability to host discussion groups on the new Alumni-Connect online community and post personal updates and pictures. The time couldn’t be better for all of us to come together for the common good of WPI.

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