CASE Summit 2017 Review
Held in San Francisco, this year’s CASE Summit for Leaders in Advancement explored the integration and impact of digital technologies. Conference speakers and thought leaders emphasized the need for collaboration between university groups to transform schools in a time of uncertainty and scrutiny, noting that technology in particular can help develop engaged students into engaged alumni. The following are highlights and key takeaways from the conference:
Conference Takeaways and Highlights:
1. Engaged leaders lead to engaged alumni.
Keynote speaker Tom Friedman, a foreign affairs columnist at The New York Times, highlighted the challenges and opportunities afforded by technology. As the digital divide dissolves, colleges and universities need leaders to be authentic and effective across their digital channels to reach self-starters taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the internet. The most effective leaders make their communities successful by listening to and engaging with their constituents. For example, though Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, has a minimal social media presence, her activity on the company’s internal social networking is large, allowing her to connect with and receive feedback from employees, even when she is not physically present. Alumni relations teams should seek to emulate this kind of digital engagement across their social media and networking channels to help alums feel heard and valued.
2. Higher ed needs cross-team and cross-departmental collaboration to thrive.
The CASE Summit emphasized the topic of collaboration, especially the need for schools to work across departments. Stanford University’s design lab, for example, transformed the classroom by encouraging collaboration: Students from all programs were tasked to work together while solving problems, which yielded stronger and more comprehensive solutions than when they worked alone or with other students in their discipline. The theme of collaboration also extended to alumni relations, with speakers emphasizing how alumni affairs offices need to work across departments to effect better results, especially to prevent loss of capital funds as they transition from a dues/membership platform to programs for all alumni, as many schools are doing so now.
3. Impact, not dollars, is the key to ensuring and measuring campaign success.
People remember stories, not numbers. Throughout the CASE Summit, speakers emphasized the importance of using stories to bring campaign or project messages to life. For example, the University of Wisconsin’s Project 72 initiative, which highlighted the partnerships between the university and each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, demonstrates the success a school can have with a fully integrated campaign that harnesses social media. During the campaign, the university published stories to spotlight the impact of each of the university’s Wisconsin partnerships and to remind alumni about the power of giving back not only to the school but also on the non-academic communities it commits itself to.
Alumni Monitor’s Table at CASE Summit 2017