Switchboard has a new look!
We've spent the past year or so focusing on back-end tools like a powerful user directory, analytics and data export options, and goals tracking for teams that empower our partners who serve as stewards of their Switchboards.
This new design is entirely for Switchboard members.
Since we started Switchboard in 2013, we’ve learned that platforms are not a panacea, and that we need to train people and change processes to make even the most effective software work. That’s why we now require our partners to undergo on-site training with our team before launching Switchboard. We completed our largest training yet with our new partner the University of Alberta last month and wanted to share.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The largest determinant of alumni giving—the student experience—has traditionally not been alumni relations/advancement's responsibility. But with so much hinging on a single variable, some institutions are taking a different approach.
Northwestern University's Senior Associate Director of Alumni Engagement Bobby Dunlap presented on Northwestern's approach at the recent CASE District 5 Conference. We asked him to share some of his advice.