Two-time alumna, legacy heads effort to connect with families of graduates

Media Credit: Photo Courtesy of Marie Treanor

Marie Treanor, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and a master’s degree in public administration and organization in 1987 and 1994, respectively, was selected as the inaugural director of legacy alumni programming last semester.

A double alumna whose father and brother went to GW is trying to expand programming for former students like her.

Marie Treanor, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy and a master’s degree in public administration and organization development in 1987 and 1994, respectively, was selected as the inaugural legacy alumni engagement director last semester. Treanor will develop events specifically for legacy families at some of the University’s highest-profile events to better engage alumni and students who might push their family members to attend their alma mater, officials said.

Treanor, who previously served as the director of the business school’s alumni relations office, was hired about three months after officials initially posted the job opening. At the time, officials said they were searching for someone who would oversee a handful of new legacy-focused initiatives, including creating a scholarship fund for legacy students and a summer send-off program.

Donna Arbide, the vice president for development and alumni relations, said Treanor will organize activities during move-in, Colonials Weekend and Commencement week. She will also build on existing legacy family programming and will work with the admissions office to roll out some of the events, Arbide said.

“She will help us further engage and inform alumni who have college-aged children or other family members who are interested in attending GW,” Arbide said in an email.

Treanor said she wanted to step into the new role because legacy families understand GW’s traditions and have pride in the school, which she said she also understands because her father and brother attended the law school.

“Traditions and GW pride are passed from generation to generation,” she said in an email. “Legacy alumni families have a deep understanding of and appreciation for GW’s past, present and future.”

She added that her position focuses on “acknowledging and celebrating legacy families,” but she declined to say what she hopes to achieve in her first year or what challenges she anticipated coming into the role. She declined to say when the new events would launch.

She also declined to say how her prior experience in alumni relations would help her in her new role.

Treanor’s first few months in her role have coincided with a time of transition in GW’s alumni and development department. Matt Manfra, the senior associate vice president for alumni relations and annual giving, left his role this month as officials also work to establish a newly created alumni association.

The University has attempted to improve its relationship with alumni in recent years. The Board of Trustees’ task force on alumni engagement has met for two years to brainstorm ways to raise GW’s historically low giving rate and falling volunteer numbers.

Three of GW’s peer institutions – the <a href="http://University of Rochester and Miami and Northeastern universities – have dedicated alumni legacy programs.

Sarah Nyanjom, the director of the admission liaison program at the University of Virginia, said the new director should check in with legacy programs at other universities in the first months of developing programming to ensure she is not attempting to create something that has already failed elsewhere.

“If the person has really good ideas, that’s great, but they should still see what is done at comparable programs,” she said. “A lot of the first steps might be seeing what’s out there.”

She said hiring a director who is also a legacy allows them to forge a better connection with students and alumni in the same situation.

“When I meet with alumni and students they always ask me, ‘What was the experience like, what had an impact on you?’” she said. “Someone with the student experience is able to better answer those questions.”

Nathan Darce, the senior alumni engagement coordinator at the University of Kentucky, said the school hosts several legacy family programs throughout the year, including during alumni weekend and a holiday event in December. The university also hosts a high school visit day for the relatives of alumni, he said.

“The program allows for our families to build relationships with one another while building a pipeline of talented future students that will foster the same love for the University of Kentucky in the next generation of Wildcats,” he said in an email.

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