Executive Director’s Message – We asked, you answered

From school report cards to university essays, students are required to undergo a constant barrage of evaluation and testing. But you’re alumni, now, and the roles have reversed; it’s us under scrutiny and you giving the grades.

Since 2005, Alumni Affairs has been seeking the opinions of UBC alumni. These surveys, conducted by an external firm, are a measure of how you perceive your alma mater and how we’re doing at providing you with programs and services of value. (Are we offering you A when we should be offering you B? How aware are you about the programming available to you? Do you value UBC? Do you feel valued by UBC?) The third and most recent survey was conducted last year, and attracted our highest ever response rate at 19 per cent. Our thanks go to those of you who were so giving of your time.

Although there are many positive indicators of your affiliation to UBC, the survey results also revealed a few areas where, in the language of report cards, we “could do better.” We have a little way to go before being able to proclaim ourselves top of the class in alumni service provision.

A clear theme emerging from the 2011 survey is that those of you who had a positive experience as students are likely to develop stronger and more enduring relationships with UBC and hold very favourable impressions of the institution as alumni. These grads are more likely to act as ambassadors for UBC, boosting its reputation and, hand-in-hand with that, the value of their degrees.

Compared with previous surveys, alumni expressed more interest in staying informed about UBC and in programs with an educational, intellectual or cultural focus. The same applies to networking with other alumni, career services, and mentoring students.

But (and it’s a big BUT) UBC doesn’t get stellar marks for its ability to provide you with these opportunities. It’s our younger alumni who express the greatest interest in these activities but rate us least favourably. It’s a clear message to do better, and so we are refreshing our student and alumni programming in response and will be conducting focus groups to help guide us in our work.

However, it should be noted that this low satisfaction rate coincides with a low awareness among that age group about our programming. It’s evident that we also need to examine our marketing and communications approach, and this overhaul is already underway. To bear in mind is the fact that 45 per cent of alumni respondents said they use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to interact with other alumni – one in 10 of you on a daily basis.

But we’d like to end this on a high note. Almost all who volunteered in the 12 months prior to the 2011 survey reported a positive experience. And alumni who visited campus in that time period are far more likely to report a sense of belonging than a sense of being an outsider whose relationship with the
university is unacknowledged.

So one message seems clear to us: greater engagement generates greater satisfaction. Come to campus, get involved, attend an event, read this magazine (online, if you prefer). You may just be pleasantly surprised enough to give us a higher grade in the next survey, and we will be working hard to earn it.

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