Current Issue

Nov.3, 2010

Vol. 111, No. 3

President's Page

Engaging with Princeton

The Alumni Weekly provides these pages to the president

Published in the November3, 2010, issue


Many of you received an online survey last spring designed to gauge how well we as a University are serving our undergraduate and graduate alumni; whether the channels that allow you to remain in contact with your alma mater and each other are sufficiently robust; and what can be done to strengthen your engagement with Princeton and your awareness of its myriad activities. The results are now in, and I have invited Alumni Association President Anne C. Sherrerd *87 h52 to report on them to you.—S.M.T.

Alumni Association President Anne C. Sherrerd *87 h52
Alumni Association President Anne C. Sherrerd *87 h52

When the University sent out an extensive online survey last spring to the over 47,000 undergraduate alumni and 13,500 graduate alumni for whom it has e-mail addresses, the response was impressive. More than 6,700 undergraduate alumni (14 percent) and more than 1,600 graduate alumni (12 percent) completed the survey. Not surprisingly, they had a lot to say about their Princeton experiences, activities, and communications. Alumni from the Old Guard to the most recent classes responded, with representation from around the country and a significant international contingent. Across this wide range of alumni, there was one thing almost all could agree on: Their Princeton experience has had a significant impact on their personal and professional lives. Among undergraduate alumni, 85 percent gave the highest possible ratings to this impact both personally and professionally, while among graduate alumni, fully 92 percent gave highest ratings to the importance of Princeton’s impact on their professional lives. For both undergraduate and graduate alumni, the most meaningful Princeton-related connection is close friendships with other alumni.

What Princeton activities do alumni currently choose most often? Here undergraduate and graduate alumni do differ. Below are the top five for each:

Undergraduate
• Reunions
• Alumni Schools Committee
• Volunteering
• Class activities
• Regional association activities

Graduate
• Alumni Schools Committee
• Departmental activities
• On-campus events
• Volunteering
• Reunions

When asked what future activities they were most likely to increase their engagement in, alumni responded as follows:

Undergraduate
• Regional events/activities
• Alumni Studies
• Mentoring (students/ alumni)
• Alumni Schools Committee
• Reunions

Graduate
• Regional events/activities
• Alumni Schools Committee
• Mentoring (students/ alumni)
• Graduate School-sponsored events
• Departmental activities

For all alumni, the Princeton Alumni Weekly generates more interest, by a wide margin, than any other Princeton publication or communication, with 80 percent of undergraduate alumni indicating they regularly read it. Undergraduate alumni also rely on Tiger E-news and class and regional association news, while graduate alumni rely on academic department news in addition to Tiger E-news. All alumni rank the University website, the Alumni Association website, and the PAW Online website, in that order, as the three most useful Princeton-related websites. Nevertheless, on average, only 30 percent feel well informed about University events and activities, teaching and research breakthroughs, or University and departmental priorities. Most alumni said they know enough to feel good about their ongoing connection, but a significant number reported that they would like to know more.

Young alumni provide an interesting contrast. They most often self-identified as feeling not only very connected to the University but also well informed about Princeton priorities and activities.

While alumni are certainly actively engaged in the life of their alma mater, in the comments at the end of the survey one wrote, “A better question would have been: How can the University help alumni to establish whatever connection with the University they want?” One of the goals of the Alumni Association, working with the University, is to do just this. At the same time, many comments asked for channels that already exist, indicating that the University is not communicating successfully enough about the multiple ways it currently provides for alumni to connect to Princeton and to each other.

Whether alumni were praising or prodding the University, they did agree that Princeton is an extraordinary institution. There seems to be a hearty appetite for continuing conversation with the University and continuing engagement in new as well as traditional ways. This remains one of Princeton’s great strengths, passed along from generation to generation, with each generation grateful to those who created the Princeton they experienced, and keenly aware of their own responsibility to create an ever-evolving Princeton that will provide equally compelling experiences for generations yet to come.
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Comments
1 Response to President's Page

Yi Chao *90 Says:

2010-11-12 09:40:29

I would like to participate and contribute if needed the regional events/activities as you described. Who should I contact and where can I find more information? Thanks.
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CURRENT ISSUE: Nov.3, 2010