Listening Project: University of Michigan’s College Connections

Listening Project: University of Michigan, College of Literature, Science and the Arts

College Connections 

In her role as Director of External Relations and Annual Giving Programs for the College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) at the University of Michigan, Nini Geraffo developed College Connections. With a young professional staff made up of recent graduates, College Connections  interviews LSA alumni, usually in person. The interviews include discussions of the “dean’s themes.” One of those themes is “citizenship.”

Already, questions about philanthropy and citizenship are revealing some thought-provoking trends.

For example, while only a few “gap” (post-2005) alums  have been interviewed so far, there seem to be striking gender differences between the older and younger cohorts of engaged alums. Among “situated” (pre-2005) alums, men outnumbered women 60% to 40%. Among engaged “gap” alums, women outnumbered men by a startling 75% to 25%.  These data (if confirmed) raise important questions about patterns of engagement among both college students and recent cohorts of alumni.

College Connection’s data indicate the value of research that began as a way to inform fundraising. While the growing interview database continues to serve the goal of strengthening graduates’ identification with LSA, College Connections has also become a Citizen Alum partner. Geraffo and her staff know that their listening project discovers “doers” as well as “donors,” and they are eager to fine-tune their questions to learn more about alumni engagement.