Wide-ranging survey of 5,000 alumni draws important lessons for the future
The UB Alumni Association, along with 12 other major university alumni associations (Nebraska, University of Michigan, Kansas State and Indiana, to name a few), recently conducted a benchmarking and best practices survey. More than 5,000 UB alumni were contacted to provide insights into their alumni experiences.
This survey allowed us to gain a clearer picture of what you—the UB graduate—think and how you feel about the University at Buffalo and your alumni association. Additionally, because this was a national study, we were able to compare our specific results with those of the other participating universities.
Indeed, we found several points and areas that inspire tremendous pride. For example, we learned—or more accurately, we confirmed—that by and large, UB alumni have a strong affiliation and loyalty to their alma mater. In fact, compared to the 12 institutions participating in the survey, UB alumni are more loyal to their institution than are the alumni of many of the other schools. Also, a lot of UB alumni talk about and promote the university’s academic programs to their friends and colleagues and do so more frequently than do alumni of the other institutions.
We were also able to determine that attitudes about UB have evolved over the years, and, depending on the class year, often with significant variation. For instance, graduates from the 1960s and earlier decades remain involved because they have a great fondness for the university and highly value its traditions. However, our more recent graduates—while still favoring the university—remain involved because of the benefits they will personally receive. These range from networking opportunities that could increase their job marketability, to such tangible benefits as discounts at the University Bookstore.
Importantly, the results of the survey identified several areas in which we can definitely improve. One area, which we have observed and addressed, is the need to involve alumni outside Western New York in the life of the university. To assist in this effort, we are making a big investment in our chapter programs, seeking to expand and grow these efforts across the country and around the world. Another area for improvement is to provide a selection of programs that bring alumni back to campus. These include not only reunions and homecoming festivities, but also activities that are offered on a year-round basis.
You will see the results of this survey through our actions in the coming months. Indeed, this survey, and future ones, will assist us in our development of new programs, as well as help us improve existing programs to better fulfill these objectives.
Robert O. Davies