Keeping in touch with alumni online
by Jeff Frankel
The new social networking site launched by Alumni Relations slightly over a month ago is up and running and already making strides, a University official said.
Launched on March 17, MyRider is a free tool that connects alumni, current juniors and seniors, and faculty and staff from both the Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses.
“So many people at Rider, whether it’s students or alumni, have good memories of the University,” said Jonathan Meer, vice president of University Advancement.
With 500 people already signed up for the site in one month alone, Alumni Relations is hoping to have 2,000 online by June 30, said Natalie Pollard, director of Alumni Relations and overseer of the project.
“For the last year we have looked at three social networking sites for alumni,” she said. “We wanted to take Alumni Relations to another level. [It’s an] ideal platform within a higher education setting.”
Membership to the site features an alumni directory, discussion boards and class notes, where users can post personal news and milestones such as engagements, marriages, birth announcements and job promotions.
MyRider members can also edit their personal information online and at the same time, track history of donations to both the Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses.
The site also has an e-mail forwarding service that allows Alumni Relations to forward e-mails.
MyRider will also serve as a secure way to donate to the University, and raising money is always hard, Meer said.
“Fundraising nowadays is challenging, whether it’s for Rider, for the YMCA or a local church,” he said. “The economy is not great; people are tightening their belts.”
Meer noted that only 12 percent of alumni contributed to the University last year. He would like to see more money come in, whether it’s $10, $25 or $50.
“We have not been successful in getting the other 88 percent,” he said.
However, while it doesn’t seem many juniors and seniors know about the site yet, some feel that this is just a feeble attempt to cash in on popular social Web sites.
“While I feel it is a good idea, I also feel there are already enough social networking sites out there,” said senior Kim Fleming. “I don’t think we should be flooded with another site like MySpace or Facebook.”
The site also keeps tabs on what Alumni Relations calls “alumni volunteers.” Alumni Relations currently has more than 25,000 e-mail addresses of the 49,000 Rider alumni from both campuses.
There are 26,000 alumni from New Jersey, and MyRider can also be a way to get those from the state to give money or volunteer their time.
MyRider does not link students by class year, but rather by social groups, Pollard said. Alumni and current students can join groups, such as fraternities, sororities, residence halls or majors.
The site can be seen at http://alumni.rider.edu.