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Cornell Reunion.

Cornellians predict the future of alumni affairs

"I'm looking forward to the day when Cornell has to hire a director of online alumni programs to manage and work with alumni who engage with Cornell primarily through online learning – for example, MOOCs. Cornell, like other universities, will have to figure out how to best stay connected with these learners and help them develop an affinity for Cornell, even if they never stepped foot on campus because they earned a credential or even – gasp! – a degree through Cornell Online University." – Shane Dunn '07

"Despite technology, we will still crave the face-to-face interactions. Regional and international clubs will benefit from the need to come together in a local setting, while Cornell's campus beauty will always be a draw and an attraction, although the emphasis may need to be more flexible than Homecoming and Reunion." – Scott Pesner '87

"We see with younger alumni [that] they have a more detached relationship with Cornell. That feeling of alma mater that warms the cockles of my heart, I'm not sure it does that for them. If I had to hazard a guess at the cause, I think that there is a more mercenary approach to deciding where you're going to go to college now, driven by the cost of going to college. I went to college in the mid '80s, right at the time when college tuition started to explode. If you're asking an undergrad to pay, right now, $240,000 to go to college, all in, that's a different kind of student and a different relationship to the institution. Kids are coming in thinking, 'What is this place going to do for me?' When I was coming in, I wasn't thinking so much about the future, because it was assumed that a college grad would get a good job." – Cliff Rohde '87

"I hope that the spirit and dedication of university to alumni (and vice versa) remains strong, and continues to get stronger. Our classes are getting bigger by the year, so hopefully the growth is natural. I also think it's important to instill the philanthropic drive early in students' careers, like the current senior class campaigns are attempting to do. Freshmen should know how lucky they are to be supported by alumni and alumni should know the students they're helping with their gifts." – Olivia Moore '12

I do think if you look out 50 years, alumni will still be passionately engaged in Cornell and the friendships they established with faculty and students. I don't think that will change. But I think the formats will change. There will still be some of the traditional things – they'll still come back to campus and there will be a reunion program that looks like today's, because people will always be drawn toward Ithaca where they had that four-year experience.

Technologies and sophisticated ways of communicating will allow alumni in 2065 to stay more in touch with the university than is possible today. … This relates to fundraising as well, which will become a lot more competitive. We'll interact at a much higher level – stewarding, thanking, and helping donors interact with the people they are giving money to … [and helping them] stay in touch with how their money is being used. … We have to bring that activity – the stories, the research, the student experience – closer to the donor. – Charlie Phlegar, vice president for alumni affairs and development

Cornell alumni have always had an especially deep commitment to our alma mater and to each other. As we look ahead 50 years, I don't expect that to change.

An active and engaged alumni body will help us tell the story of the positive impact that Cornell faculty, students, and alumni have on the world. They will continue to help us connect new ideas and new technologies to the marketplace. They will serve as advocates and advisers.

To engage these alumni, Cornell will need to be responsive – on a global scale – to the interests of our alumni. We will need to personalize our programs, services and volunteer opportunities. We will need to offer programs that reflect the diverse backgrounds and interests of our alumni, and scale [them] to serve not only alumni living in the U.S., but growing populations of alumni living around the globe. – James Mazza '88, associate vice president for alumni affairs

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