My first day as your assistant vice president for alumni engagement was January 25, which the East Coasters will remember as Snowstorm Jonah. The university closed (!), so I spent my first day of work on the couch in my (temporary) apartment, which is in the “Lower Cenns” complex.
Since then I’ve had face-to-face meetings with about 75 alumni in Central Jersey, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New York City, Bethlehem, and Boston, and I’ve talked with several dozens more at virtual and in-person events and meetings. I also fielded a quick survey to speed my understanding of the essence of Lehigh and heard from 1,500 alumni!
Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned or observed so far:
• An entrepreneurial spirit is in the DNA: no matter what your profession, you all seem to have a “sure, let’s try it!” and “just get it done” attitude. Love this!
• You feel you got a high quality education that prepared you well, both professionally and personally.
• You want more virtual and more quick-hit volunteer opportunities.
• Tremendous alumni/student connections happen here.
• The Lehigh network is 80,000-alumni strong, and for those who tap into it, it surpasses your expectations.
• For those who weren’t in a sorority/fraternity, on a team, or in the Engineering or Business schools, it may have been tough to find your place here.
• We are producing fabulous social and athletic alumni events but could do more intellectual and professional networking events.
• The online engagement experience needs to be expanded and improved.
In future columns, I’ll share some of my team’s action items and plans (hint: we too have a “sure, let’s try it!” and “just get it done” attitude!).
Until then, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me @jenlynham. My email is Jennifer.Cunningham@Lehigh.edu if you’d like to comment on any of the points above or just tell me what’s on your mind.
Assistant Vice President, Alumni Engagement