by Howard Bokser
Michael Daley, Simon Wakelin and Claude Mazza are alumni tracers, super-sleuths on the trail of lost alumni.
Concordia and its founding institutions, Loyola College and Sir George Williams University, have more than 103,000 alumni, but updated records for 60,000 or so, a below-average ratio for Canadian universities. The balance are "lost."
Daley is a third-year Film Studies student, and Wakelin is a native of England who is studying Classics; both are working out of an office in the Faubourg. Mazza is a long-time Concordia employee working at Loyola. Among them, they can trace up to 20 people a day with nothing more to go on than a name and date of graduation.
How do they do it? Sherlock Holmes-like instincts? Strong-arm tactics? Believe it or not, the phone book -- or its modern equivalent, Canada 411, Bell Canada's free search engine, which lists all residential and business phone numbers in Bell's system.
Since phone listings alone can be limited, especially for those graduates who have moved abroad, the young investigators also use a number of other search tools, ranging from a CD-ROM listing of all Canadian lawyers to word-of-mouth.
"A week and a half ago I contacted a Loyola graduate in Markham," Daley said. "I asked him if he had any other relatives who went to Loyola, Sir George or Concordia. He thought for a bit, then said, 'Oh yeah, my sister went to Loyola.' Then he remembered that her son went to Concordia. This went on for 30 minutes, and by the time we were done, I discovered that nine of his family members were alumni, five of whom were previously 'lost.' "
Part of the sleuths' task is to try to correct addresses of returned Concordia University Magazines. "When I first came here," Daley said, "we would get back about 1,300magazines with wrong addresses each issue. For the June 98 issue, we got back only about 600." It costs the University $2 for the printing, mailing and return of each wrongly addressed magazine.
Most alumni who are contacted are quite pleased to hear from Concordia. "I recently spoke to an older woman in British Columbia," Wakelin said. "She told me all about how she got from Germany, where she was born in 1914, to Sir George in 1960." He discovered that her daughter was a "lost" Concordia graduate living in B.C., as well.
Do you know of any Concordia, Sir George or Loyola alumni who may be "lost"? Let Alumni Affairs know,
at 848-3818; fax: 848-2826;
Web site: http://alumni.concordia.ca/alumweb