Alumni Weekend turnout plateaus

Attendance at Alumni Weekend increased only slightly this year, after the program boasted years of double digit growth.

This year 2,622 alumni, current students, parents and friends attended programming – only a 4-percent increase from last year, according to an estimate released Oct. 12. From 2005, when 400 people took part, until 2010, the average increase in attendance each year was 51 percent. The Office of Alumni Relations does not keep a count of just alumni participation.

Social media and targeted e-mails were used to drum up excitement for the weekend this year, efforts the Vice President of Alumni Relations Adrienne Rulnick said the office is still developing.

To increase participation at next year’s weekend event, the office intends to start the reunion planning committee process sooner and to increase alumni programming during the year.

“We are happy with the turnout,” Rulnick said. “The attendance is going to continue to increase, just not as much.”

She attributed the turnout to the weekend gathering falling early in the year and added that the trend of increasing attendance was not sustainable. This is the sixth year that alumni weekend, which began Sept. 15, was a separate event from Colonials Weekend. Alumni activities this year will include a trip to The Washington Ballet and student-alumni speed networking nights.

Involved alumni support fundraising and are a resource to current students, Rulnick said.

“Alumni who are engaged are better donors,” said Rulnick, “But we also would like to celebrate alumni. Engaged alumni are a gift back to the University.”

Last year, alumni giving amounted to $28 million, not including gifts from family foundations of alumni, according to the Office of Development.

“We are always looking to increase the number of alumni giving back to their alma mater,” David Garofalo, the senior director of communications for the Office of Development, said.

Vice President of Development Mike Morsberger called the September event a “winner.”

Six class year reunions took place during the weekend this year, two more than last year.

Alumni Weekend also included a Chuck Brown concert, a Taste of GW event and events aimed specifically at former student athletes and Student Association presidents.

“We were disappointed that the turnout to our reunion was very low,” Shannon Maxwell, a member of the Class of 1991 who organized the 20th reunion, said. “Most of the reunion turnouts were low. Those who went had a great time, though.”

The five-year reunion had a stronger turnout, Carrie Warick, a member of the Class of 2006, said.

“I thought that the five-year reunion went really well. We were very excited with the turnout,” she said.

This post was updated October 14, 2011 to reflect the following:

This article was updated on Oct. 13, 2011 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that this was the third year Alumni Weekend was separate from Colonials Weekend and that six reunions were held for both class year and activities. In fact, it is the sixth year Alumni weekend stood alone. Additionally, six reunions pertained to just class year. There were many more that corresponded with activities.

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