University reaches out to alumni abroad

Some top administrators are expanding GW’s efforts to reach out to international alumni, devoting more energy to connect with the nearly 10,000 graduates living overseas.

University President Steven Knapp visited the Middle East last month with Elliott School staff to connect with alumni living in the area, one of many similar trips overseas. The Office of Alumni Relations also hired a director of international alumni last fall and the GW Alumni Association created an International Programs committee to reconnect with graduates and develop a worldwide alumni network.

Laurel Price Jones, vice president for Advancement, attributed the renewed effort to stay connected to international alumni to Knapp’s tenure.

“GW has focused additional efforts on building our lifelong and worldwide community under President Knapp,” she said.

Since taking office in 2007, Knapp has traveled through various countries in Asia, Europe and to the Dominican Republic. Knapp said his trips abroad have allowed him to connect with alumni and GW’s institutional partners around the world, making “connections that can build on and maintain a network.”

“We have a very strong commitment to building our sense of our community of alumni as a lifelong and worldwide community, so that we really encourage people around the world who have been to GW to feel connected, to really feel this is their home in Washington D.C.,” Knapp said.

Price Jones said 900 international alumni have participated in various GW programs in the past nine months. The office has also expanded its contact with international alumni through Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mail and individual outreach.

Many international alumni can be hard to contact, as they are often foreign citizens who returned to their home country after graduating from GW. The Alumni Association can find themselves without any way of reaching them, Price Jones said.

“One of the goals of our Middle East trip and international alumni outreach in general is to use the alumni network to discover these ‘lost’ alumni and re-engage them with the University and their fellow graduates,” she said.

Price Jones said about 1,100 GW alumni live in the Middle East, making up 15 percent of GW alumni abroad. Forty eight percent of alumni abroad live in Asia, and 18 percent live in Europe.

On the most recent trip, GW held alumni events in Kuwait City, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi where alumni met each other and administrators. Elliott School of International Affairs Dean Michael Brown and Elliott School professor Edward Gnehm held a panel discussion on President Barack Obama’s policies toward the Middle East.

“We heard from [alumni] that they are excited to have contact with the University and have wonderful memories of being at GW,” said Gnehm, who served as ambassador to Kuwait from 1991 to 1994, before serving as ambassador to Australia and Jordan.

Price Jones sees the outreach to international alumni as ultimately having multiple benefits for the University.

“GW alumni serve as ambassadors for the University in their home countries by building professional networks, meeting prospective students, connecting with faculty and other community members who travel abroad and contributing to the positive image of GW through word-of-mouth,” she said. “We also hope to see more international alumni giving back to their alma mater, both financially and with their time and talent.”

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