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February 28, 2002 Alumni chapters springing up around the globe



by Sigalit Hoffman

The Concordia University Alumni Association (CUAA) is helping more and more recent graduates stay connected. “We’re growing every year,” said Laura Stanbra, director of alumni relations.

The CUAA has enjoyed unprecedented growth, thanks to a new initiative to increase the number of Concordia alumni chapters worldwide. Stanbra attributed the association’s newfound success to a change of approach.

“Now we’re not only creating chapters geographically, we’re also building chapters based on affinity,” she said. Starting an alumni chapter is usually done on the initiative of the university.

Last year, the CUAA founded a new alumni chapter in Beirut, Florida, and a Montreal-based chapter uniquely for graduates from Concordia’s Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) program. Stanbra said the interest in affinity-based alumni chapters is growing. Members of the Faculties of Engineering and Computer Science and Fine Arts and the Applied Human Science Departments have expressed interest in establishing new alumni chapters.

If the chapters get off the ground, Stanbra will have surpassed her goal of founding two new chapters a year.

“There’s a lot of interest, not only on behalf of the alumni, but also by faculty wanting to stay in touch with the graduates.”

The alumni chapters often organize social events like pub nights and cocktail parties to keep alumni together. Last January, the CUAA MBA chapter organized a cocktail reception for MBA alumni, current MBA students, and MBA Case Competition judges.

There are almost 20 Concordia alumni associations worldwide and about 68,000 alumni. There are associations in six cities in Canada and as far away as London, Hong Kong and Tobago.

Concordians abroad

In cities where there is no formal alumni chapter, Stanbra said the university and the CUAA may help the Canadian embassy invite Concordia alumni to its events. “Alumni find it very comforting to meet fellow Concordians abroad,” Stanbra said.

In turn, the university also tries to coordinate social events with faculty trips abroad, bringing campus news to alumni first-hand.

The CUAA is still finding new ways to help graduates keep in touch. Stanbra said the Internet has been a very powerful tool in helping establish new chapters internationally. The association has 15,000 e-mail addresses of Concordia grads, and Stanbra said the list is growing exponentially. In fact, Stanbra said the CUAA founded the new Florida chapter almost exclusively online.