Photo: The Nashville Region UT Knoxville Alumni Chapter hosted the 47th annual All Sports Picnic at Lipscomb University
By Chandra Harris-McCray
A social hour hosted by the UT Alumni Association is anything but just a social where nametags and appetizers are swapped.
Feasting on engaging more alumni, the association’s revamp of chapters focuses on six key regions (Atlanta, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis and Northwest Tennessee) and four mid-market areas on the Cumberland Plateau and in Dyersburg, Jackson and upper East Tennessee. The strategic plan of the association was the catalyst that led to this journey and has continued to be the nucleus throughout the process.
The enhanced programming is the bedrock to fostering involvement and lifelong relationships within the 335,000-member association. More than 115 chapters, clubs and networks throughout Tennessee and in 20-plus other states are part of intentional programming focused on networking and career services, community service, cultural and athletic events.
“It’s a happy hour with a purpose centered on relationship building and growing, all for the campus you know and love,” explains Brandon Ponder (Chattanooga ’02,’08), who serves as the Atlanta region UTC alumni chapter president.
In less than a year, alumni like Ponder—and some who have never attended an association event—have not only come out to participate in events but to help lead new chapters and networks, says Jackie Wise Parreco, director of alumni chapters and outreach for the UT Alumni Association.
“There is truly something for everyone,” says Parreco, “no matter where you live or what campus you graduated from.” Ponder can attest to the before-and-after transformation of the chapter programming. Years ago, feelings of disconnection and discouragement set in “after I attended an alumni event in a different area and saw it decked out in orange and white,” he explains. “The enhanced structure offers a sense of pride to all alumni and their school colors and traditions. It’s the reason I got back involved.”
“One more arm of the larger body” is how Sherry Morgan (Knoxville ’71,’78,’85), who is the outgoing alumni network president of the Knoxville region, defines the reorganization. “There are many tiers of activity and leadership opportunities, but the ultimate goal is simply to get alums involved and in touch with their campus and the university as a whole.”
With more than 600 events annually, the association “is reaching alumni where they are,” Morgan says. “And that’s what matters most.”
Defining the Enhanced Chapters and Clubs Program
What is a regional campus chapter? Alumni from a specific campus engage in family, campus-specific academic, athletic, social and spirit events.
What is an out-of-state chapter or club? Alumni from all UT System campuses connect to host networking, family, social and community-service events.
Did you know that, as an alum of UT, you are automatically a member of the University of Tennessee Alumni Association? Find a chapter by visiting utaaconnect.com.