We’ve heard it before: When you’re given lemons, make lemonade. Well, in the Alumni Association’s case, they made a new online program to bring alumni together.
When the pandemic set in, Alumni Association Executive Director Janie Morgan knew they would have to change how they did business.
“Our face-to-face events, large group gatherings and more are not an option today, so we brainstormed ways we could continue to engage our alumni digitally and came up with ‘What’s new Wednesdays,’” she explains. “We will feature campus and alumni experts on a variety of topics throughout the year.”
Held on a Wednesday each month, “What’s New Wednesdays” is free and open to all alumni and friends. The first event, held July 22, highlighted “Diversity, Inclusion and Solidarity,” featuring Chancellor Joe Gow and other UWL administrators. View it.
Morgan says the program was well received —115 alumni and friends registered for the event. Participants represented seven decades of alumni and eight states.
The second event covered “Conquering the Virtual Interview,” featuring Karolyn Bald, Assistant Director of Academic Advising & Career Services, on Aug. 26. Health Education and Health Promotion Professors Gary Gilmore and Dan Duquette will present “Thriving in the Wake of COVID-19’s New-Normal: Current and Future Health Promotional Implications” on Sept. 23. Register and see future dates and topics.
Morgan says the Alumni Association was able to hold its first gathering since the pandemic began on Aug. 12 when 60 alumni and friends attended a golf outing in Onalaska.
Expect to see more changes this fall. Staff has been meeting with different reunion groups to strategize connecting virtually. And, the Lantern magazine, events and programs are all being reimagined. This fall, the Strzelczyk Great Hall in the Cleary Alumni & Friends Center is being used as a classroom.
The Association is working to welcome back students on campus. It donated extra Big Birthday Bash T-shirts to be made into masks for students returning, and is working to help arrange welcome back crews.
Despite the new pandemic paradigm, some traditions remain. The “Lighting the ‘L’” on Grandad Bluff continues this fall when students, faculty and staff return.
Morgan says the Alumni Association will continue to work with more COVID-19 changes. Look for a survey asking for the types of services and events you want and need from the Association.