Redefine alumni relations, that might inspire greatness

By Tyler Eagle

A facet of post-grad life I have always been fascinated with is the relationship students have with their colleges after they have their diplomas in hand. 

At Columbia, I have had the good fortune of meeting entrepreneurial and inspiring alums, many of whom are excited to interact with students at their alma mater. They exemplify the greatest parts of the institution and are testaments to our equally talented faculty. 

On this week’s Front Page is a story regarding a new research-based image campaign that features some of the college’s more notable faculty members. The college started the campaign to raise Columbia’s profile and give it a distinct brand. 

I have heard positive reactions from many administrators and several faculty members about the city-wide campaign and the professors it features but I must admit I am not a fan.

While the featured faculty may be distinguished and popular among the college community, their prominence in the advertisements speaks to the lack of emphasis that the institution places on advertising its alumni and their many accomplishments. 

It may be an unpopular opinion among faculty members, but as a student at a college where the curriculum is aimed at notoriously competitive fields, I am less concerned with being shown who can teach me and more interested in who I can become—particularly those whose academic footsteps I am tracing. 

Few faculty members have matriculated from this college and, while they contribute to its unique body of knowledge and atmosphere, the real stars are the graduates who have been able to accomplish their dreams—or the ones brave enough to carve out

new ones.

A more credible campaign would have been one that highlighted the alumni’s accomplishments. In the spirit of honesty, that is something the college needs to radically redefine, especially through its undeveloped website. 

Columbia’s archaic website is the first thing associated with the college in the Internet realm. The occasional errant post or profile can be found about an alumnus, but there is definitely room for a lot more improvement.

The story on Page 6 details the college’s decision to postpone Alumni Weekend, an event that invites past graduates back to the college. Again, I am flabbergasted by the blatant disregard for alumni. 

Jonathan Stern, vice president of Development, decided to postpone the event because he wants to reassess the program and learn how the college can better connect with alumni.

Although featuring them in city-wide advertisements may be an extreme, hosting an event that calls them back to the college is not. When is there ever a better time to learn about how the college can cultivate relationships with alumni than have an entire weekend dedicated specifically to them?

Having had the chance to talk with President Kwang-Wu Kim, I know the college is looking to become more connected with alumni, and I applaud that direction. 

It is a departure from an era when that was not a focus, but the college needs to tackle this issue now rather than later. Plaster alumni across the city. Columbia should not just host one Alumni Weekend, but several. Show the student body that there are careers and a future out there. It is the least the college can do for its students.