Students & Young Alumni

How the University of Maryland Engages Previously Unengaged Alumni with Online Book Clubs

How the University of Maryland Engages Previously Unengaged Alumni with Online Book Clubs

If you could meaningfully engage hundreds of alumni who had never interacted with your institution before with a program that didn’t require staff time to run, you would, right?

We probably all would. But that might not stop us from being skeptical if we were told that the program that could do that is a virtual book club.

But the proof of the book club is in the reading. Jeff Williams, Associate Executive Director of Engagement and Outreach at the University of Maryland Alumni Association, and his team launched four book clubs in July and reached nearly 2,000 alumni in 46 states almost right away. Over a quarter of those had never engaged with the alumni association before. And they did it all with minimal staff time by partnering with an outside company to handle the program.

Career services needs to upskill. Here’s how.

Career services needs to upskill. Here’s how.

With so much change ahead, career centers need to rethink outdated career training models. Career centers’ primary focus should not be to prepare students for linear careers anymore. Instead, they should prepare students for a lifetime of career changes. Navigating these ambiguous career paths requires students and alumni to embrace upskilling and lifelong learning. This same advice applies to careers services staff too.

What is Design Thinking, Anyway? And Why Should We in Higher Ed Care?

What is Design Thinking, Anyway? And Why Should We in Higher Ed Care?

If you’ve attended a conference or read articles or, well, done anything, really, in the past few years you’ve likely heard of something called “design thinking.” And if you’re anything like me, you’ve turned your nose up at what seems to be the latest fad out of Silicon Valley.

But design thinking is not business-school jargon. It isn’t pretentious, or fake, or overhyped. It’s actually useful—yes, even to higher ed, with all its quirks.

Here's why.

Hello, We're People: How Lessons from Journalism's Crisis Can Save Higher Ed

Hello, We're People: How Lessons from Journalism's Crisis Can Save Higher Ed

Before I co-founded Switchboard, I worked as a reporter. I studied at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and went on to work for National Public Radio, the Boston Globe, and popular shows like Marketplace and Planet Money. I reported on stories ranging from the opioid crisis, to pediatric burns caused by Cup Noodle soup, to rickshaw drivers in India.

It’s hard to overstate how much public newsrooms and education have in common, and how much both professions can learn from one another.

Ask Switchboard: How Can We Engage Alumni With Podcasts, Book Clubs, and Continuing Education?

Ask Switchboard: How Can We Engage Alumni With Podcasts, Book Clubs, and Continuing Education?

Today, the first installment in our Ask Switchboard column, where we or friends of Switchboard answer anonymous questions from readers.

Our first reader question is about using continuing education to engage alumni. Kathy Edersheim, formerly of Yale and now president of Impactrics, has written eloquently on the subject, so we hand it off to her.

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.