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UWRF tries to draw in younger graduates

March 4, 2010

UW-River Falls is taking a new approach to staying in touch with alumni by attracting a younger group of graduates.

The UW-River Falls Foundation was established in 1948 as one of the first Wisconsin state college foundations, according to the alumni relations Web site. This year, UWRF is setting up events specifically for young alumni—those who have graduated in the last decade. A young alumni Web site was recently launched to provide information on a variety of topics such as upcoming events and links to multiple sites for alumni to stay connected; alumni are able to connect via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

According to Melissa Wilson, alumni relations coordinator, the Young Alumni Group has been established to better engage and serve UWRF’s most recently graduated by bringing together young alumni and continuing their strong connections with UWRF.

Wilson said the series of events and the young alumni community has been established to better serve and support the recent graduates with programs and communication opportunities that are uniquely tailored to their own needs and perspectives. The group’s internal goals and mission states “the UWRF Young Alumni Group is also a place where future leaders and volunteers can be identified in ways that deepen their commitment to the University and prepare them for active roles in the UWRF Alumni Association.”

The young alumni Web site welcomes back visitors, displaying at the top of the page: “So you already miss UW-River Falls, and lets face it, we miss you too.” The site is specifically developed for young alumni, branching off of the regular alumni relations page. The page is meant to be an opportunity for young alumni to stay in the loop with the University, the city and “all things Freddy.” The Young Alumni Group encourages young alumni to stay involved and help the University get to places never before reached, as many of the successes at UWRF are driven by the alumni, according to Wilson.

Alumni share their personal UWRF story and talk about what a great experience they had at UWRF, which encourages the next generation of students to apply, attend, enjoy their education and experience and begin the cycle again, said Wilson.

Started in March 2009, the Facebook group titled “UWRF Alumni” currently has over 1,200 members. Members are able to keep up to date with each other and be informed of upcoming events with the new young alumni program and the regular alumni program. The current young alumni campaign is being called “Freddy Takes Over.” According to Wilson, about 35 alumni are currently registered for the upcoming inaugural events.

The first event is scheduled for March 4 at the Agave Kitchen in Hudson, Wis., from 5 to 7 p.m. The event is designed for alumni to reconnect with old classmates and to meet new ones. It will give young alumni in the St. Croix Valley area a chance to network with each other and stay connected with the University. Friends are welcome to the events, and they do not need to be UWRF alumni.

On March 25 the Young Alumni Group will hold its second event at The Liffey in St. Paul. This event will help young alumni with job searching and allow for networking opportunities. Help updating resumes will be offered, as well as interview practice and advice.

A third event is to be held on April 8 at the 8th Street Grill in Minneapolis. This is another networking event for young alumni to meet up with old friends. This event also offers food and drink specials for attendees. According to Rocky Gonzalez, alumni relations intern, people are showing a lot of interest for this event.

“With the economy being tough with layoffs and such, we thought it would be great to create a workshop for our alumni to update their resume, network professionally and socially and receive interview help from the wonderful staff at Career Services,” he said.

The fourth and final planned event for this year is the Twins vs. Brewers game on May 22 at new Target Field in Minneapolis. The cost for attendees is $35. Fifty tickets have currently been reserved by the Young Alumni Group, but Gonzalez said they may need to get more due to the great interest.

Gonzalez said he believes the future for the young alumni program will be a bright one.

“Not many Universities in the United States are offering programs for their young alumni, but I think that may change,” he said. “It is more beneficial for Universities to reach their goals and objectives by getting alumni involved sooner rather than later.”

A new intern will be hired this summer, and they will have control over the young alumni events planned for next year. Gonzalez said he believes the program will continue with the momentum it is building this year.