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Building Community Initiative

It's all about affinity

BCI Research Wins Award

June 28th, 2011

BCI received a nice surprise last week! A recent paper on our research regarding alumni affinity and philanthropy (that pointed to differences in affinity between alumni of large and smaller colleges) was awarded the 2011 Alice L. Beeman Research Award in Communications and Marketing for Educational Advancement by CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education).

We are excited and honored by this award. Not just for the award itself, although awards are nice, but it is also exciting and satisfying to see that our work associated with advancement is being recognized and gaining acceptance.

The most important point of this recognition, for me, is that I am delighted to think that our work can help university advancement professionals engage alumni in more thoughtful ways to build mutually valuable relationships. As a professor and an alumnus of a couple of universities, I can appreciate how rewarding and beneficial these connections can be for both the alumni and the institutions of higher education. At the university, it is common for us to see alumni that look to their professors, advisors, or coaches for mentorship, recommendations, professional consultation, graduate studies, or even friendship. We see alumni that have “love affairs” with their respective alma maters, just smiling ear to ear while they show off their branded sweatshirts emblazoned with OSU or UCLA or anywhere U (as on a cool day on the cusp of July, I sit in my office wearing a University of Utah sweatshirt). These relationships do not end at graduation day. A campus tour will exhibit some of the benefits associated with these relationships that accrue to the institution: named colleges or buildings, sponsored benches or classrooms, professorial endowments, and even stadiums (with a quick and personal thank you to the late Al Reser, his family, and Reser’s Fine Foods and the Austin family for their graciousness and generosity to OSU and the College of Business). In short, higher education is delivered to and by community. All of us are in this together.

To give you an idea of the things we’re working on, here is a link to the article. The paper provides empirical results that suggest the importance of identifying and understanding unique qualities of individual institutions that can have consequence for alumni affinity and the design of successful advancement programs. We would love to hear your views on our findings. I would be especially interested in learning more about what additional research associated with affinity that you would find interesting. What do you think, “Dear Readers?

The paper can be found here.

About CASE, from www.case.org

“Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in London and Singapore, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the professional organization for advancement professionals at all levels who work in alumni relations, communications, fundraising, marketing and other areas.”

Today, CASE’s membership includes more than 3,400 colleges, universities, independent elementary and secondary schools, and educational associates in 68 countries around the world. This makes CASE one of the largest nonprofit education associations in terms of institutional membership. It serves more than 60,000 advancement professionals on the staffs of its member institutions.”

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One Response to “BCI Research Wins Award”

  1. Ron Cohen says:


    Congratulations on this recognition. Since our meeting in Portland in early May, there has only been reinforcement of the notion that sustaining community within our institutions is THE KEY to institutional advancement in almost all ways. FYI, good conversation last week with your colleagues at OSU Fdn, for whom value of the BCI work remains high.

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