Alumni Relations

A Lack of Professional Development Resources is Killing Constituent-Facing Offices in Higher Ed

A Lack of Professional Development Resources is Killing Constituent-Facing Offices in Higher Ed

Every month, we hear from folks in higher ed who are interested in Switchboard not because of what our company does, but because of what we have done—move from higher education to the private sector. Professionals in constituent-facing offices like career services, student affairs, alumni relations, and advancement want to know how they can transition from higher education, too.

This quiet, looming exodus is as frightening to watch as it is frustrating. It's frightening because institutions are losing the talent they need to succeed and survive in the changing higher ed landscape. It's frustrating because we know it is preventable.

When people leave their jobs, they each have their own reasons for moving on. But everyone we've spoken to shares one reason in common: a lack of professional development resources at their institution.

It's a huge problem, but we'll try to keep it brief. Here are four reasons why a dearth of professional development funding and opportunities is hollowing out constituent-facing offices.

Be Your Own Unicorn: Building a Strong Personal Brand

Be Your Own Unicorn: Building a Strong Personal Brand

There is so much buzz (read: extremely annoying buzz words) around building a strong personal brand. How can you own the internet? How can you make sure you are the go-to person for your area of expertise? The jargon and the tools suffocate, and at times, chokes your very essence to death . As a recovering higher ed professional myself, I’ll offer some straightforward ways to unlock your inner unicorn and make the biggest impact on your campus.

Hello, We're People: The Tao of Engagement

Hello, We're People: The Tao of Engagement

There is no word I use so often and dislike so much as I do the word “engagement.” It is overused, it sounds like it was lifted from an 80s business seminar, and—its worst crime of all—it is vague.

Because the word is already ubiquitous, we can’t get away from using it. So we try and try again to redefine it instead.

At Switchboard, we begin our weekly team meetings with a segment called “Hello, we’re people.” It’s a chance for us to be light-hearted and share something about ourselves. For example, what our favorite kind of pie is, or what sort of crime we’d most like to adjudicate as jurors (high-level white collar crime, across the board).

In that spirit, today I’m writing about how my understanding of Daoist philosophy informs my relationship with that terrible word—engagement.

How The Ohio State University's College of Engineering is Breaking Down Silos in Advancement

How The Ohio State University's College of Engineering is Breaking Down Silos in Advancement

High turnover and a lack of collaboration between units are the norm in higher education, but they aren't conditions we have to accept.

When Patrick Lynch started in his role as Director of Strategic Engagement and Alumni Relations at The Ohio State University's College of Engineering, he felt called to act after a number of his colleagues left within six months. He shared his experience working to create a culture of collaboration at the CASE District V Conference in December.

We asked Patrick to revisit that presentation and talk about his work for this extensive Q&A. In it, he touches on how he and his team are fostering collaboration, creating a share sense of purpose, and making changes internally that are improving their relationships with other teams.

Want to Engage Alumni? Ditch the Funnel. Embrace the Web.

Want to Engage Alumni? Ditch the Funnel. Embrace the Web.

The funnel is a strategy that informs much of what we do in alumni relations, advancement, and alumni career services. We use it to move people from where they are to where we want them to be—engaged alumna to volunteer, engaged alumna to donor, engaged aluma to mentor.

I will explain how it is flawed by way of comparison. I invite you to consider an alternative metaphor: the engagement web. 

How Concordia College's Engagement Strategy Doubled Young Alumni Giving

How Concordia College's Engagement Strategy Doubled Young Alumni Giving

Launching new strategies and programs is always daunting. We often feel like we have to have everything ready to go right out of the gate. (Not to mention the fact we don't want our colleagues and supervisors to think that we're winging it.) 

But in reality, we have to start with small prototypes, adjust our expectations, and test and tweak our programs to fit our audience before we can scale up. That's how Concordia College, a liberal arts college with 2,500 students in Moorhead, Minnesota, doubled its young alumni giving rate in three years. First it simply began targeting online outreach to young alumni, and then gradually moved into young-alumni-specific events, and eventually established young alumni engagement committees run by volunteers.