The UT Alumni Association websites are getting a makeover.
Last year, nearly 11,000 UT alumni participated in a comprehensive survey to aid the alumni association in developing a strategic plan, and based on that feedback the UTAA is reshaping the way it communicates.
Darren Hughes, director of communications for the UTAA, is overseeing the web project.
“Our alumni will see a dramatic change when everything goes live this summer, especially when they visit the campus alumni sites. But, honestly, the coolest stuff is happening behind the scenes in the technology that drives it all. Something as seemingly simple as a system-wide events calendar is actually a tricky problem to solve, and I think we’ve finally cracked it.”
The redesigned websites will be better integrated with popular social networking tools, including a new feature that allows alumni to connect their Facebook account with their alumni profile. However, the alumni association has no interest in trying to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
“There’s a reason half a billion people are on Facebook!” Hughes laughs. “It’s a perfectly designed tool for staying connected with friends. Our goal with the redesign is to do the most important things better. We want to make it easier for alumni to get involved in their local areas, to stay informed about what’s happening on the UT campuses, to register for events, and to take advantage of our career services.”
Social networking will be a feature of the redesign, though.
“The one thing we can offer that Facebook can’t is a closed UT alumni community,” Hughes says. “Every alumnus and alumna will have a profile in the online directory. Unless he or she registers with the community, the site will display only the person’s first name, last name, and class year. Once the person registers, though, he or she will be able to share more information—like class notes and photos—and the technology will make it easy for them to network with other alumni in their area or from their college. We’re especially excited about its potential to offer real professional networking opportunities.”
To celebrate the relaunch, the UTAA will hold a drawing for several prizes. (There are rumors of iPads.) Everyone who registers for the new online community during the first month will be eligible, so keep an eye on your mailbox—and your in-box—for more information.