Jun 03

NT Times: Alumni Mags Compete with Facebook…

Interesting story in yesterday’s NY Times on the challenge of keeping in touch with alumni in the age of social networking…

Alumni magazines serve many purposes. They highlight the news and research at their institutions, and serve as prettied-up fund-raising vehicles. But their main appeal — as dormitory common rooms for grown-ups — has increasingly been usurped by Facebook and similar Web sites.

“Over all, universities have been reluctant to embrace social media as a communications channel because they fear a lack of control,” said Sam Huleatt, a Johns Hopkins alumnus. “Most schools now understand that they must establish some presence if they wish to remain relevant in the lives of their graduates.”

Johns Hopkins recently adopted InCircle, a Facebook-like application only open to students and alumni, Mr. Huleatt said.

The details that people include in class notes has evolved over the years, perhaps reflecting a younger generation’s tendency to share more. While some alumni magazines cling to the milestones of marriages, moves, births and deaths, others let people vent about personal issues, often in a way that is well-suited to online conversations.

“They’re talking about everything from their latest career move and how they’re managing it, to raising children with disabilities, taking care of elderly parents,” said John MacMillan, editor of the Smith Alumnae Quarterly.

The management of class notes is an important issue, since fund-raising efforts hinge on making graduates feel connected to their schools.

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