“Love My Alumni Week” Designed to Thank Alumni Personally
Issue   |   Wed, 02/15/2012 - 02:05
Photo by Alissa Rothman '15
A student gathers material for letter writing.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Young Advancement Leadership Council is running the first ever “Love My Alumni Week,” an event that gives students an opportunity to express gratitude to alumni. The event started on Feb. 13 and will be running through Feb. 16, at Keefe Campus Center.

“We are trying to raise awareness for all that alumni do for this college,” said Director of the Parents Fund Eva Rosenn ’83. “We want to make sure that students understand that Amherst depends on alumni support.”

During “Love My Alumni Week,” students have the opportunity to write personalized thank you notes to alumni, win prizes by coming up with the closest answer to alumni-related trivia (such as “Guess how many alumni donated to the alumni fund this year?”) and obtain information on how to use the alumni directory to get in contact with alumni for internships and other help.

“It is important for students to understand how much alumni do by helping students obtain internships and jobs,” Rosenn said.

Katrina Gonzales ’12 is the primary planner and organizer behind “Love My Alumni Week.” Gonzales worked as an intern with the Advancement Office, the fundraising arm of the college, over the past summer. She formed the Young Advancement Leadership Council (a group that exposes underclassmen students to the inner workers of the Advancement Office) and started planning the event over the summer. “Love My Alumni Week” is the Young Advancement Leadership Council’s first event.

“I had the idea for this event because we need to raise awareness of how much the alumni do for our school,” Gonzales said. “Our alumni are among the most generous in the country in terms of how often they give back.”

Over 10,000 alumni contribute annually. Tuition, room and board cover only 39 percent of Amherst’s operating costs. The remaining 61 percent of Amherst’s expenses are covered by the endowment and gifts from alumni.

Gonzales came up with the idea for “Love My Alumni Week” after researching other college’s methods of raising awareness about alumni support.

“I looked at what events other universities, like MIT and Brandeis, ran,” Gonzales said. “I picked and chose ideas that they had.”

One major aspect of some of the other universities’ events that Gonzales chose to leave out of “Love My Alumni Week” was an attempt to influence students to donate to the college.

“Some schools try to get money from students — that’s not the point of this,” Gonzales said. “We are trying to bring about a cognizance of what the alumni do.”

For writing a thank you note, students receive an Atkins Farm apple cider donut and purple and white M&Ms. For getting the closest answer to a trivia question, students will receive an Amherst water bottle, Amherst bottle opener, Amherst baseball cap or Amherst playing cards. For every 10 thank you notes written, students will receive a t-shirt designed by Marvel comic-book artist and Amherst alum Walt Simonson ’68. As a part of “Love My Alumni Week,” juniors who are currently abroad were given these t-shirts and will engage in a photo contest, taking photos wearing the shirts in various places across the world.

“Bonus points will be given if an alum is in the picture with the student,” Rosenn said.

Rosenn expects that several hundred letters will be written over throughout the week. The letters will be distributed to members of the 1821 club, alumni who annually devote $1821 or more annually, as well as to older alumni.

“Older alumni are probably now used to receiving mainly emails. I think they would appreciate getting a card from a current student a lot,” Gonzales said.

This is the first time “Love My Alumni Week” is being held, but Rosenn hopes that it will become an annual event.
“We tried to start a little smaller this year, but hopefully if the event is successful we can try to do more things next year, including bringing in alumni to speak” Rosenn said.

“My goal is for the student body to understand how much alumni giving is apart of our experience,” Gonzales said. “Hopefully when we graduate we will do the same thing for future students.”