Summer 2008: from the EAA

Allison Dykes, Vice-President for Alumni Relations

Bryan Meltz

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By Allison Dykes

Dear Friends,

Thoughts of summer conjure lazy days, lounging by swimming pools or in deck chairs, vacationing at the beach or in the mountains, and spending your time pretty much anywhere but in school. Summer at Emory has always equated to the slow time of year . . . at least it used to. For the past few years, summer has been the time of construction, and 2008 is no different as new freshman residence halls are rising quickly in the heart of campus, ready to welcome the Class of 2012 this fall. But other than that, Emory summers have been pretty quiet.

Not anymore. At least this summer, there has been a lot of action with Emory’s alumni community, and the diversity of happenings makes me think of our alumni’s past, present, and future—how they are intertwined, and how Emory’s past, present, and future are never far away, no matter where you are.

The future of Emory alumni is the Class of 2008, all 3,595 members of it, who graduated on May 12. If they are as engaged as alumni as they were while students, we’re in great shape. Their embrace of new Emory traditions has been remarkable, and it just shows how much they care about Emory and about each other.

The 2008 Candlelight Crossover was the largest in the event’s five-year history. The Class of 2008 got involved with the Emory Alumni Association (EAA) in a variety of new and vibrant ways. The Student Alumni Association (SAA) came up with several dynamic programs throughout the year, including the 100 Senior Honorary, an award ceremony that honors the one hundred most accomplished members of the graduating class (as chosen by representatives from across Emory, including faculty, staff, and alumni). It truly is the best of the best.

Emory students, as well as our young alumni, also are taking the lead on building the EAA’s social networks. For instance, a search for “Emory” on Facebook proves our students and alumni are all over. Online social networking is a fun, and very effective, way to build community.

The strong leadership of the present was most visible during Emory Alumni Leadership Weekend: Building the Network, a first-of-its-kind gathering on campus of more than one hundred alumni, June 13–15. Members of the Emory Alumni Board mixed with more than fifty volunteer leaders from EAA alumni chapters and interest groups around the country. Just putting dozens of Emory’s most engaged alumni in the same room for social events (one at the new School of Medicine building and a second at the Michael C. Carlos Museum) led to such fascinating conversations that the diverse programming the weekend offered—outlining best practices for regional chapters and how the EAA supports its alumni volunteers, among other things—seemed almost secondary to the free flow of friendship and camaraderie.

The leaders who attended are excited about taking ideas back to their constituents, so that even the alumni who did not attend the weekend will benefit though the lessons learned by our chapter leaders from around the country.

In alumni relations, the past is never forgotten. In fact, the past is constantly relived through the stories of our 105,000 alumni. As we prepare for Emory Homecoming Weekend, September 26–28, the EAA is thinking frequently about the past as we plan for ten reunions and a variety of other programming to welcome you back to campus.

In that way, the past is never really past. And it’s the mission of the EAA to keep the past alive in the minds and hearts of Emory alumni, to bring those fond memories back, and to encourage our alumni to make new ones.

Enjoy the remainder of your summer, and I hope to see all of you back on campus this fall for Emory Homecoming Weekend. In the meantime, if you have any ideas or just want to say hello, I can always be reached by email at adykes@emory.edu. I look forward to hearing from you.

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