Connection Chair Information
Swarthmore Connections are regional groups of Swarthmore alumni, parents and friends that offer new and continuing opportunities to stay involved with the school and with one another. Programs may include social, cultural and educational events, community service projects and networking opportunities.
Currently there are Connections in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Metro DC/Baltimore, New York, North Carolina Triangle Area, Paris, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, Tucson, and the Twin Cities. If you don't live in a Connection city and are interested in hosting or sponsoring an event, you can start a new Connection or host a one-time get-together.
If you are interested in getting involved, take a look at the resources listed below. Volunteers are invaluable in helping plan, implement, and evaluate activities that strengthen the relationship between alumni and the College. Your efforts, in concert with the Alumni & Parent Engagement staff, make these meaningful opportunities possible. If you are interested in becoming a Connection organizer, or if you have any suggestions for additional resources that would be helpful to you, please contact Geoff Semenuk, associate director of Alumni & Parent Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (610) 328-8453.
Connection Chair Goals
- to plan and hold at least two events per year, engaging alumni of diverse ages and interests. If you feel you are unable to hold two events per year then we depend on you to let us know and help us find another alum who can help us reach this goal. Many cities have a Connection chair who represents a small committee that typically meets at least once a year to map out possible events.
- to keep a list of attendees and share that info with the alumni office for planning purposes
- to take group photographs for submission to the College Bulletin (small group photos are the best)
- to serve as a regional resource and contact for Alumni & Parent Engagement and other offices at the College (faculty on the road, admissions, etc.)
- to coordinate with other volunteers who wish to organize Connection events in your area
Types of Events
Opportunities to connect or reconnect with the Swarthmore College community after graduation are as varied as the programs offered to, and generated by, students while on campus. You are free to plan almost any sort of get together you wish, as long as there is a reasonable chance of attracting a fair number of participants. Connection events are volunteer in nature and as such, any budget must be generated by the participants (i.e. pay-as-you-go).
If an event requires an R.S.V.P., responses can either go directly to you, or they can come to the alumni office e-mail account. Also, if pre-payment is required for an event, you can choose to have checks made out to yourself, or to Swarthmore College.
The following categories reflect the most popular events held by regional connections:
- Art museum or gallery tour with alumnus/a artist
- Backyard or park potluck picnics or dinners
- Young alumni happy hour
- Dinner/lunch with featured speaker/guest (local noteworthy alum or spouse of an alum)
- Play or performance with alumni/professor talk-back
- Arboretum or park tour
- Hiking, canoeing, or bicycling
- Career networking happy hour or dinner
- Wine tasting or winery visit
- Historic site tour
- Baseball or hockey game
- Music event or movie meet-up
What Encourages People to Attend Events?
- Something unique . . . an attraction usually unavailable to individuals or the public (a behind-the-scenes tour, for example)
- The opportunity to see friends, network, and meet College faculty or administrators
- Right place, right time, and right price
- Taking part in a well-attended annual regional event with an alumni group (wine festivals, annual concerts, etc.)
Alumni Relations Support
To assist you in organizing your connection and in planning and implementing connection activities, the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office will:
- E-mail and/or paper mail event invitations, announcements, or requests for volunteers to everyone in your region
- Provide updated alumni contact lists, including names and addresses of alumni and parents who have expressed an interest in hosting and/or assisting with events in your targeted area
- Help plan and evaluate events, and also guide organizers to area alumni who have expressed interest in planning events
- Post your event to the Alumni website, and submit follow-up information to the Swarthmore College Bulletin
- Handle deposits and process bills if you so desire
- Hold yearly leadership weekends at Swarthmore College for training and providing updates on key College priorities
- Serve as a liaison between the Connection and other College departments
- Offer free advice. We’ve been helping Connections chairs plan events for many years, and we will be happy to share our experience!
Event Planning Details
- Breaking Even: The event must pay for itself, so keep costs in mind.
- Select a date and time that works best for people.
- Always allow for about four weeks ahead. This allows for proper event execution and improves attendance.
- Check with the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office to make sure no other events are planned for your area on that same date.
- Reserve event location, and ask for a confirmation of all details in writing. Visit the site, if possible, or ask about directions, parking, handicapped access, restrooms and rain plans (if outdoors). If you need audio/visual equipment, determine costs, and make arrangements. Some locations will allow you to bring your own equipment, but others will not.
- At least 4 weeks before the event, contact Geoff Semenuk in the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office at email@example.com or (610) 328-8453. Provide the information regarding the event so the invitation can be created, e-mailed, or mailed through the postal system.
- The invitation should indicate an explanation of the event, date and time, place, price (discounts, if any), contact person and phone number, R.S.V.P. date and contact name, details regarding admission to the event, directions, and parking information.
- Determine the size of the mailing list with the Geoff (i.e., all alumni, young alumni only, parents and students only, interest group, prospective students and parents, or specific geographic area). The Alumni & Parent Engagement Office will mail the invitation four weeks prior to the event. Four seems to be the optimal amount of notice for an event. Five works but people seem to “table” the invite for a future decision, three also works but people often already have plans made.
- Arrive early to check on all arrangements.
- Assign someone to greet people and collect late registrations, take attendance, etc. or if necessary please do this yourself.
- Remember, enjoy the event!
- Send a list of attendees to the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office.
- Send checks to Alumni & Parent Engagement Office, if you pre-arranged for Swarthmore to pay the bills.
- Send thank you notes to participants, if appropriate.
- Review event with Connections planning group. What worked? What did not?
- If you incurred expenses, please send your receipts to the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office.
In between events you might want to send a message out to alumni, parents, and friends in your Connection region. If you would like to do that just contact Geoff Semenuk in the Alumni & Parent Engagement Office and he can help you make this happen.