By Anna Meyer
Bethany is well known for its close, tight-knit community, Christian environment and family-like atmosphere. It’s what draws people in, and it’s also what brings people back.
The alumni network at Bethany is special and something that sets the college apart.
“I would say we’ve got a very strong alumni network that wants to help and support the college in any way they can,” said Manager of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, Jake Krier.
Krier is in charge of the Bethany Phone-a-thon, one of the most prominent ways Bethany connects with its alumni.
Through the Phone-a-thon, Bethany students call alumni or people who are part of the Bethany family. Callers bring them up to date with the college and give them the opportunity to support the college through donations.
Although this is an important way Bethany maintains its relationship with its alumni, it is not the only way.
“The big one is our fall festival reunion weekend, which we do in September,” Krier said. “That’s probably our biggest alumni thing to get them back and you get people back of all different groups. You get those who were involved in athletics to come back and watch soccer or those that were involved in theatre come back from Theatre Physics, and ones that were involved in musical performances for the choir and band concerts we have that weekend.”
The extent of alumni events doesn’t stop there, however. There are plenty of other opportunities Bethany provides for alumni to get connected not only to the college, but with each other.
Two to three times a year Bethany hosts events off-campus. Locations include Florida, Arizona, Seattle, and throughout the Midwest- Milwaukee, Madison, and the twin cities.
Bethany tries to associate the event with an entertainment factor to draw people in, such as a choir concert during a stop on their tour or a local sporting event.
These events typically happen in areas where there’s a large population of Bethany alumni and where it’s a bit more difficult for them to find their way back to Bethany of ten.
Events like these that encourage alumni involvement are something Bethany takes pride in and is a great way to reach out to them face-to-face.
Another successful way the college reaches out to its alumni is through the Bethany Magazine.
“A third of my time is spent talking with alumni for stories [for the magazine],” said Lance Schwartz, the Director of Institutional Communication at Bethany. “But the majority of it, a lot of the magazine has historical articles, athletic updates, and faculty and staff news. So it’s a little of everything.”
The Bethany Magazine is mailed to alumni and friends of Bethany and has proven to be extremely successful in connecting people with the college. However, Bethany’s outreach is evolving.
“From my vantage point, I think the magazine is [the most successful] although social media is becoming equally as important,” Schwartz said. “And depending on the posts, social media, especially Facebook, has become a great way to engage alums.”
As the college continues to grow and the number of alumni increases every year, Bethany makes it a priority to keep them connected and updated.
“We have about eight or nine people in our off ice just to manage our alumni alone and to make sure they’re staying involved and know what ’s going on,” said Krier. “Every day I get to talk with a new alum and get them connected with the college, and I really enjoy that.”
Not only does Bethany have a large department that specializes in alumni relations, many of the people in that department are alumni themselves.
In fact, a large majority of Bethany’s faculty and staff are made up of Bethany alumni.
“Approximately 98 alumni are currently employed in some capacity at Bethany or 56 percent of the total employees,” said Joni Bode, a Data Specialist at Bethany.
The family-like atmosphere Bethany creates on its campus is something it tries to continue once people leave. Bethany also isn’t shy about trying to get anyone and everyone connected and a part of the family.
“Really the Bethany family is a lot more than just alums,” Krier said. “It’s people connected through many different ways. We’re really able to take people in, and what we take pride in here is that when people are on our campus, we just kinda make them a part of us and it’s kind of a unique thing here. It’s what makes Bethany special and maybe you didn’t necessarily come to school here, but for whatever reason, we are very easy to let people be a part of that.”