Knowing where your classmates live now and what careers they chose can be a great source of pleasure and information. Many universities in the United States and Canada compile and sell alumni directories for that purpose, and Concordia has recently published one of its own.
The directory cost Concordia nothing; the publishers do all the work, based on the addresses and class names they are given, and make up their costs and a profit out of the sale of the books.
"Many alumni like and use the directory," said Ann Vroom, Director of Alumni Affairs. "It helps us update and enrich our information, and it shows how proud we are of our graduates."
The first four pages of the directory include a welcome from the Rector, a brief history of Loyola College, Sir George Williams University and Concordia, a profile of the University today, and a description of the alumni associations. There are plenty of attractive archival and recent photos of student and alumni life to lighten these opening pages.
The lists of names are organized in five ways. There's the biographical section, with the names in alphabetical order; these resulted from a mailed survey, which was followed by phone call to check the information and solicit purchase of the book, so all these names are of those graduates who agreed to be listed.
Then there's the "class section," in which every graduate, living or dead, is listed according to year. It starts with 1906, when the only graduates were from Loyola College. From 1937 to the merger year, 1974, the graduates are listed from both Loyola and Sir George, and starting in 1975, of course, they are all Concordia grads.
The third section is organized geographically. This could be particularly useful for people who have left Montreal and would like to find other alumni living near them.
There's a section organized by profession (accounting, banking, education, government) -- an obvious networking tool, although using the information for commercial purposes is illegal. Finally, there's a section of grads' e-mail addresses.
In such a huge undertaking, there are bound to be errors, and the Alumni staff have been hearing about a few, but on balance, they're pleased with the 700-page book. It costs $76.99 for the soft-cover edition, and $79.99 for the hard-cover.
The publishing company, Harris, is one of a handful of U.S. specialists in producing these directories; there appear to be none here. It was sometimes discouraging, Vroom said, to deal with American publishers who knew little about Canadian universities, let alone the French character of Quebec.
The only previous Concordia directory was published in 1991 with the same company, and Vroom thought that this time,
things would be different, but they still weren't ideal. There's a niche out there for a Canadian publisher. - BB