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January 19, 2012

Did You Know?: Purdue Alumni Association

Kirk Cerney

Kirk Cerny, president and CEO of the Purdue Alumni Association, talks to alumni at the Celebration Dinner during the 2011 Alumni Weekend. (Photo provided)
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The Purdue Alumni Association strives to make sure students' ties to the University don't end with the turn of a tassel on graduation day. Reaching out through alumni clubs and groups in the United States and abroad, as well with a growing social media network, Purdue Alumni currently has 60,556 members, including 17 percent of all West Lafayette graduates. This is the second-highest percentage in the Big Ten and 15th best of any dues-paying alumni association in the country.

The mission of Purdue Alumni is to encourage the interest of all alumni in the accomplishments of both the University and their peers. The organization has come a long way since its founding in 1878 when J.B. Harper, the first graduate of Purdue, was named president. Drastic growth in the early 20th century expanded Purdue Alumni's reach from only six regions nationwide to 17 regions in 1990. Today, Purdue Alumni actively supports 65 regional alumni clubs, 20 regional backer groups and 40 international alumni networks.

Last year, Purdue Alumni ranked as the eighth-largest dues-paying alumni organization in the country, a distinction that speaks to the staff's dedication to fostering Purdue's worldwide alumni network.

"This ranking is very validating for us because it reflects that we are connecting to alumni in a way that resonates with them," Dan Rhodes, vice president of marketing for Purdue Alumni says. "We are proud to do our work connecting alumni and we are fortunate to be a part of a great University that generates remarkable alumni."
 
One important resource for Purdue Alumni is the organization's bimonthly publication, Purdue Alumnus. The magazine, a benefit of membership, was first published in 1914. It has been published consecutively ever since and still serves as a vital channel between Purdue and its far-flung alumni.

Recently, Purdue Alumni has begun outreach through social media, including interactive options with Facebook and Twitter. This fall, Purdue Alumni was ranked in the top 30 social media-savvy alumni associations in the country due to its constant communication with more than 26,000 LinkedIn members, 18,000 Facebook fans and almost 6,000 Twitter followers.

Purdue Alumni also focuses on students currently enrolled at Purdue through the Purdue Alumni Student Experience (PASE). This student membership in the Purdue Alumni Association allows current students to participate in alumni events, including socials, networking opportunities and information sessions. PASE members also receive discounts at local retailers and restaurants. Currently, PASE boasts over 3,500 members, making it one of the largest student groups on campus.

"We realize how forward-thinking our students are and they know what a tremendous opportunity PASE is. After graduation, students understand the value of membership with Purdue Alumni," Rhodes says. "A connected and engaged alumni base is also a very valuable tool for Purdue. We are the organization for all alumni, here to serve as the gateway in the engagement process."