Letter from the Alumni Director

At the University of Montana, we enjoy a passionate, world-class alumni network. Our student experience creates a bond that sets the stage for a meaningful lifelong connection. Walking across the graduation stage is intended to be a launch point, not an end point. Our bond and our relationship, however, require cultivation, nurturing and growth.

This year, I’m humbled to take the helm as board chair of your UM Alumni Association, along with a talented group of fellow alums, with a simple, yet daunting challenge to strengthen the lifelong connectedness of nearly 105,000 living UM alumni. Pretty easy, huh? Hardly. But what an exciting challenge at an important time for the University. I believe the UM alumni base has been an undervalued and underused asset of the institution, given the enthusiasm and appreciation of our graduates. Now is the time to realize that potential.    

President Bodnar has challenged the institution to Think Big. Be Bold. And as an alumni association, we’re moving in exciting, bold directions when it comes to engagement. We’re investing significant resources in building out alumni chapters across the country to facilitate stronger networks where our alumni aggregate in metropolitan areas. We’re investing in an individual engagement program to better facilitate connection to our worldwide alumni, wherever they may be. And we’re thinking more strategically about your needs, your situation and how we as an alumni network can help you.

We’re also adapting and embracing certain paradigm shifts, given how society is shifting. Three come to mind:

  1. Continued involvement from our alumni must be earned, not expected. If we operate on the premise alumni owe something back to the institution, we will miss the mark. Provide value, and alumni will reciprocate in big ways.
  2. Strategy must be built around the needs of alumni, not the University. If we provide valuable alumni offerings – be it continuing education, certificate programs, networking opportunities, career assistance/mentorship, etc. – we will strengthen our bond and let the University be the beneficiary.
  3. Engagement opportunities must meet you where you’re at, given life realities. Let’s face it, time is a precious commodity, and we’re all better suited to engage if we know the activity is important, relevant and time sensitive. We appreciate those realities.  

The creation of an engaged, supportive alumni base is critical to the mission of UM’s success. 

Step back and reflect on the relationship you enjoy today with UM. What can we do to help you succeed? Let’s think big as we realize the potential of this incredible alumni network we’re blessed to be a part of. 

Chris Newbold JD ’01