February 19, 2007
Name change starts new chapter in alumni history
BY eric rangus
The change is small -- just the transposition of two letters -- but implications for the future are likely to stretch far beyond the creation of a new acronym.
This month, the AEA, as the Association of Emory Alumni is casually known, has become the EAA, the Emory Alumni Association. The result is a sleeker, more user-friendly identity for the organization that serves as the University's main conduit with its 100,000 living alumni.
The EAA name-change effort was a collaborative process that began last fall and included EAA staff and the marketing committee of the Emory Alumni Board.
"As we work to heighten awareness of the EAA, a seemingly simple name change, we believe, will help," said Emory Alumni Board marketing co-chair Brian Rutter, general manager for international marketing with Delta Air Lines and a 2005 graduate of the Goizueta Business School's Executive MBA program.
"The new name more quickly comes to mind and more easily rolls off the tongue," he continued. "One key goal of changing the name is to help Emory alumni and other constituencies to become more familiar with the organization and the many opportunities to get involved."
Allison Dykes, vice president for alumni relations, said the name change is organic. "In both casual and formal conversation, we are frequently referred to as 'the alumni association,'" she said. "We figured it was about time that we called ourselves what everybody else does."
The EAA already has a new logo, designed by Emory's marketing department, and it is working to update its signage, printed materials and Web site.
Throughout its history, the EAA has been familiar with change. Alumni have had an organized presence at Emory since before the Atlanta campus was established in 1915. Emory's first alumni association, known as the Emory College Alumni Association, was created in 1896. It moved from Oxford to Atlanta with the rest of Emory College in the early 1900s. Eventually, the alumni association was headquartered on the ground floor of the Alumni Memorial University Center -- which is now the Dobbs Center.
For much of its existence the alumni association focused on University-wide events such as Homecoming or the old Charter dinner, but that model was updated about 20 years ago. Outreach became a much more important component of alumni relations at Emory.
In 1986, following a study by a blue-ribbon commission appointed by President James Laney, the alumni association was reorganized, and the Association of Emory Alumni was born. The AEA moved to small house on North Decatur Road across from Glenn Auditorium. The group was based there until 2000, when it (along with the Emory Annual Fund) moved into the Miller-Ward Alumni House, Emory's first building dedicated for use by the alumni association.
In the last few years, the EAA focused its mission on alumni volunteer leadership development. Dykes said the EAA works to not only identify alumni with leadership potential but also helps identify opportunities for them to be engaged with the University. Those opportunities range from student mentoring to fundraising to regional chapter leadership and much more.
While the EAA has more than a century of service to Emory, the organization had never been designated as the University's "official" alumni association. That designation from the Board of Trustees came in 2006 -- along with the Emory Alumni Board's designation as the EAA's official governing board.
At some 100,000 members -- every Emory alumnus is automatically granted entry to the EAA, there are no dues -- Emory alumni are among the University's most significant constituents.
"I feel like this name change is important for alumni as it helps us better align with the University," said Emory Alumni Board marketing co-chair Tara Whitehead of Dallas, Texas. She is a 1993 MBA graduate of Goizueta and vice president with Amdocs Consulting Division. "We're putting Emory first."
Dykes said the name change, which was announced to all Emory alumni through EmoryWire, the EAA's electronic news publication, provides an excellent opportunity to reconnect with all of Emory's alumni.
"All of the AEA's existing programs will be retained within the EAA," said Dykes. "And we are adding new features and benefits, many of them through our Web site. The name change is just one aspect of the many efforts under way to engage alumni in leadership with the University."