2017 has been a busy year for the University of Tasmania Alumni with staffing changes in the Advancement Office and a wide range of activities and communications on offer to interested alumni.
This year began with the implementation of a new alumni advisory committee. Our first online election was held, and three members were elected by alumni worldwide. The election proved a very successful engagement initiative with fifteen candidates nominating and 1,342 alumni voting in the elections globally. Alumnae Catherine Williamson (Vic), Robyn Phillips (Tas) and Lisa Morisset (ACT) were elected to serve on the new committee for the next two years. They joined appointed members who were selected from key areas within the University.
Advisory committee members have been truly generous in volunteering their time and expertise in a range of ways - offering advice, hosting, speaking at and attending events, mentoring students and presenting alumni with alumni pins at graduation ceremonies.
During 2017 there have been 49 events delivered directly, and through partnerships, by the alumni office. These events offer key opportunities for alumni to network with other graduates and connect with their University.
The successes of many of our alumni were acknowledged in 2017 through inclusion in our monthly eNews or via our social media channels.
By the end of this year we will have also celebrated the achievements of over 7,000 of our newest alumni at graduation ceremonies held in Sydney, Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, and Shanghai. We welcome these new graduates and members into our alumni community.
The University Dinners attracted 765 guests across Burnie, Launceston and Hobart and saw three key alumni receive some of the University’s highest accolades. Alumna Professor Jane Pirkis (BA Hons 1985, MPsyc 1988), a world-renowned population mental health researcher, received the Distinguished Alumni Award at the Launceston University Dinner in June. Internationally-renowned human rights lawyer and humanitarian Dr Alice Edwards (BA/LLB Hons 1997) was awarded the Foundation Graduate Award in Hobart in September. The Hobart dinner also saw the Chancellor of the University of Tasmania, the Honourable Michael Field AC, confer the University’s first Benefactor’s Robes on Dr David Warren (BSC Hons 1980, Hon DSc 2008) for his incredible philanthropy and long-term support of the University.
Our online reach to alumni through our webinar program was embraced with over 1,200 views across five webinars to date. These webinars continue to provide our alumni and supporters globally with meaningful ways to connect to their University and engage in an ongoing conversation about the groundbreaking research being undertaken. The webinars are also an opportunity to introduce staff and alumni who are playing key roles in that research. These webinar form a living history and recordings can be accessed at any time through the University’s Livestream channel.
Six of our key events this year have been made possible through a valuable partnership and generous grant from the Department of State Growth. The events delivered through this partnership were a Future of Work Series presented in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart. These events were also partnered with the Institute for the Study of Social Change. Interstate events delivered through this part agreement were Tasmania: Culture, Creativity & Tourism - The MONA Perspective in Melbourne, with a second in Canberra later this month. A young alumni forum in Hobart which attracted over 400 alumni and friends brought together four young alumni in a panel facilitated by Dr Louise Grimmer entitled The Tasmanian Dilemma: Should I stay or should I go?
Other partnered events included Ten Days on the Island’s The Art of Community Engagement – a series of three forums presented in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart and Peace: A Practical Matter was presented on 31 July presented by journalist and alumnus Martin Flanagan in partnership with the Tamar Valley Peace Festival. The latter event was held at the Annexe Theatre in Launceston and attracted an audience of 160 alumni and guests. In addition to the live event, it has also had 107 views on Livestream to date.
The University welcomed alumni at international gatherings in London, New York, Denver, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Washington, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore. The US remains a key target area for alumni with a member of the Advancement team based in Eugene, Oregon to coordinate alumni relations activities and gain philanthropic support for the University.
Social media remains a vital communication channel with participation rising 11% in 2017 and readership has averaged a very positive 31% which sits well above the world education industry rate of 21.7% (MailChimp and Optinmonster). Communications delivered to alumni ranged from the monthly eNews, invitations to latest events to key announcements from the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor.
A vital upgrade to key functionality within our database was completed in November which will see the Advancement Office using the latest technology to assist in our important work.
The Career Mentor Program (CMP) received a 2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Learning and Teaching Programs in the category of “Student experiences and services supporting learning, development, and growth in higher education”. Since its establishment in 2011, the CMP has facilitated mentoring partnerships for almost 700 students across all Colleges, Faculties, and Institutes, with over 300 mentors volunteering to share their experiences. The majority of mentors have come from our alumni community.
The University has bestowed its highest honour upon outgoing Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen. Professor Rathjen received the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa and now officially becomes an alumnus of the University of Tasmania. We wish him well for his position as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide as we recognise his many achievements since his appointment in March 2011.
Lastly, there have been significant changes to the Alumni team this year as we welcomed the appointment of two new staff to the alumni portfolio. Ms Nicole Willcox joins us as Alumni Officer and Ms Gilda Sorella as Advancement Communications Officer. They look forward to helping alumni connect with the University. In August Mr Alastair Lee resigned his position as Associate Director Alumni Relations to follow other pursuits in his home state of Victoria, and we thank him for his service to Alumni. The search for a new Associate Director is well under way with an appointment expected by early 2018.
I wish alumni and their families a happy and safe festive season and look forward to your continued support of the alumni program during what will be an exciting 2018 as we welcome our new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rufus Black.
Acting Associate Director, Alumni Relations
University of Tasmania