Online posts wishes graduates well

Staying Connected Online

A letter from Jennifer Cunningham, assistant vice president for Alumni Relations

This is a paragraph from my column in the Spring 2020 issue of the Bulletin:

“…it would be easy for us to proclaim that “Events are dead!” and just move our engagement efforts online. After all, you can Skype with a bunch of friends instead of coming to Reunion. You can stay home and message alumni in your industry on LinkedIn. You can watch the Mountain Hawks cream the competition from your living room…”

In fact the whole article was making the case for getting off your screens and meeting face to face; in other words, quite likely the most ill-timed message in the history of this publication!

So how has alumni engagement been since early March? In a word: booming. As I write this in late June, we’ve had more than 4,000 alumni, parents and friends participate in our 50-plus online events. And of the alumni, about 40% are participating for the first time!

Meanwhile, the Alumni Relations team has been having dozens of one-on-one conversations with our fabulous volunteers and newly involved alumni. Personally it’s been so much fun to interact with fans of the new weekly Dose of Brown & White email, and with fellow puzzle aficionados enjoying the “just for fun” section.

On the flip side, we’ve heard from many alumni and students who are struggling, for all the reasons you would expect: job losses, sick family members, overwhelming work-from-home dynamics, social isolation and more. In response we’ve done a lot to try and activate the Lehigh network to work its magic. For example, this spring, nearly 20,000 career-related conversations took place on our online career platform, Lehigh Connects. Hundreds of alumni stepped up to help students find new internships and jobs when the ones they had lined up evaporated. Our Professional Alliance leaders came together to host a massive online networking event on Slack that drew 250 registrations and dozens of timely business leads. Nearly 1,000 people sent congratulatory messages to the Class of 2020 to welcome them to the alumni community, and 350 new graduates created profiles on a new digital class connection site. Nearly 150 Association of Student Alumni (ASA) and alumni volunteers are contacting incoming first-years to personally welcome them to the Lehigh community. It’s been amazing to see so many Lehigh alumni step up to support classmates and friends.

Finally, the entire Alumni Relations team wholeheartedly supports the message from President John D. Simon ’19P and Board of Trustees Chair Kevin L. Clayton ’84 ’13P regarding antiracism. I strongly urge you to read their statements and those from The Lehigh University Alumni Association, BALANCE, Students for BLM, and several others at go.lehigh.edu/racialinjustice.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Cunningham
Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations

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