In an era of diminished state and community resources for higher education, community college alumni are increasingly viewed as an undefined and untapped source of support by their alma maters. Community college presidents and advancement professionals find themselves faced with the dilemma of how to develop and define meaningful and philanthropic relationships with their institution's alumni. The early community college student experience can be described as "transactional" or "nomadic." What is being sought by these community colleges is a better understanding of how to transform current and former "nomadic" students into alumni "settlers" who will stay connected with the institution upon completion of their studies. As a result, community college alumni engagement activities are growing and changing across the country in order to redefine alumni relationships with their alma mater and to build a pipeline of future support for the institution. Extensive interviews were conducted with college presidents, advancement professionals and volunteers at five Pennsylvania community colleges that reside at various points on a continuum of alumni engagement efforts. The research shows that community college presidents and advancement staffs believe that an alumni program, tied to institutional goals and priorities, can improve institutional affinity among former and current students, resulting in a transformation of disengaged "nomads" into engaged "settlers." Alumni with a strong institutional affinity have the potential to provide new sources of support to their alma mater. In order for this transformation to occur, community colleges must identify, engage and educate former students about their role as alumni as well as improve efforts to shape today's students into tomorrow's engaged alumni. The financial and human capital investments in staff, technology, programming and engagement activities provide evidence that the institutions involved in this study are increasingly committed to building alumni communities that remain connected, engaged, and supportive in lasting and meaningful ways.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 74-01(E), Section: A. Adviser: Robert M. Zemsky. Thesis (Ed.D.)--University of Pennsylvania, 2012.