Making the case for international alumni relations
The University at Albany’s International Education Leadership Expert Series presents a module with Dr. Gretchen Dobson, Ed.D. to create, expand and deepen your global network of active and engaged alumni worldwide.
January 7 – January 16, 2020
About the module
Making the Case for International Alumni Relations interactive module is designed to meet the professional development needs of both senior and line officials who are directly – or tangentially – responsible for building and sustaining relationships between international students, alumni, and families in efforts to promote internationalism at home and abroad for their university.
Worldwide, higher education institutions ignore a major strategic asset by failing to capitalize on international alumni and constituent relations. In 2018, it is fair to say that the internationalization efforts in this arena are generally:
- Underdeveloped (or, under-resourced)
- Fragmented within different units and/or schools
- Left to a virtual community (LinkedIn/Facebook)
- Treated as a last-minute necessity
With our increasingly global workforce, colleges and universities find former students distributed across countries and over continents. This group includes students who came from abroad to complete studies at the home institution, and also domestic students who have relocated to other countries since graduating.
With the growth of international student populations, mobility programs and heightened priorities for graduating global citizens, never has it been more important to reach alumni abroad. Enrollment professionals are typically well aware of alumni’s critical role in recruitment and fundraising efforts. Even where typical domestic alumni relations are well managed, leadership too often ignores the potential or is unclear about how to scale-up and manage these efforts at a global level effectively.
Successful participants will receive an electronic badge and certificate acknowledging their completion of this professional development expert module from the International Education Program at the University at Albany (SUNY).
• Deans and Directors of International Programs interested in developing an institution-wide approach to global alumni and constituent relations
• Directors of Alumni Relations Programs interested in starting a global alumni department
• Existing global alumni relations officers seeking additional knowledge and capacity
• International Education Officers interested in understanding the value proposition of global alumni relations.
• Associations, consortia, government and other organizations with strong beneficiary and supporter networks, e.g., Rotary International, Fulbright Commission, Children’s hospital, religious seminaries, etc.
Expert Series Presenter
Dr. Gretchen Dobson, Ed.D.
For additional resources and commentary, see
With over 26 years of experience in higher education and constituent relations, Dr. Gretchen Dobson and her team at Academic Assembly, Inc. lead institutions, governments and member-based organizations towards sustainable global alumni engagement strategies and solutions. Dobson also provides professional coaching for academic and administrative leaders, NGO executives, and non-executive board leaders and volunteers new to global engagement practices.
Dr. Dobson is the author of Being Global: Making the Case for International Alumni Relations (CASE Books, 2011), the International Travel Handbook: Engaging Constituents Abroad (Academic Impressions, 2014), and editor of Staying Global: How International Alumni Relations Advances the Agenda (EAIE, 2015). She was recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the leading “Innovators in Internationalization” for her work at Tufts University (USA) and remains active in professional associations.
Dobson serves on the Board of Directors of United Planet since 2014, a network of leaders and volunteers fostering cross-cultural understanding and addressing shared challenges to unite the world in a community beyond borders. In 2019 Dobson joined the Africa Global Chamber of Commerce as their first Global Strategic Advisor for Outreach and Engagement.
Dobson received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Boston College, and her Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. She is proud to be affiliated with the University at Albany’s School of Education as one of the inaugural International Education Leadership Fellows. She is based in Australia.
- Participants in the course will receive a set of resource materials tailored to the course, drawing from Dr. Dobson’ original materials, including among other things, complimentary soft copies of Dobson’s first two books, Being Global: Making the Case for International Alumni Relations (CASE Books, 2011) and International Travel Handbook: Engaging Constituents Abroad (Academic Impressions, 2014), in addition to a sample Global Alumni Relations 12-month Project Plan template.
- Other recommended resources include Dr. Dobson’s third book, Staying Global: How International Alumni Relations Advances the Agenda (EAIE, 2015) and articles and blog posts made available throughout the course.
- How to assess readiness to invest in global alumni relations and how to communicate the value proposition for global alumni relations and program.
- 4 Pillars of Engagement – assessing readiness (pre-course homework and session 1 review).
- 6 main reasons why we engage global alumni (including families and other institutional stakeholders).
- Requisite resources for sustainable programs.
- What you need to know if alumni relations is not your primary focus and how to refresh your approach and update your toolkit if your portfolio centers on global alumni engagement.
- International database management (including transnational alumni).
- International volunteer management.
- Staffing (Cross-Training) and Partnerships (Consortia).
- How to develop internal alignment and support for investing in global alumni relations.
- Prioritizing Next Steps with a Global Alumni Relations 12-month Project Plan.
- Using and sharing course takeaways with clear objectives every three months.
- Identifying metrics to assess progress and success at each stage of the Plan.
- Additional ways to leverage the learnings of the course.
- Continuing to extend thought leadership among your new colleagues and other professional networks.
- Before Session 1: Participants will describe their motivation for taking this course and their background with and interest in global alumni relations. This will help the IEL Fellow instructor to form working groups to support each other in the applied work.
- During Session 1: We will form working groups to pursue the applied work. We will review key lessons from the required reading (Dobson 2011). Focused on Learning goal #1, we will assess readiness, identify key resources and stakeholders and begin drafting a value proposition for our global alumni relations programs.
- Before Session 2: Participants will practice communicating the value proposition to other stakeholders for investing in global alumni relations by developing talking points or questions for themselves and colleagues.
- During Session 2: Participants and their working groups will learn and begin to perform an internal review of international alumni volunteer opportunities at their home institution during the session. We include a review of international database management and key external partnerships.
- Before Session 3: Participants will start with their own area and refine/develop a job description for international alumni volunteers in addition to identifying at least three other international alumni volunteer roles managed by other divisions and/or schools and the value proposition for both the volunteer and institution. Participants will be expected to share their findings with members of their working group. In Session 3, they will share one international alumni volunteer role created by their group.
- During Session 3: After a review and sharing of international alumni volunteer roles, we turn to discuss two case studies, one developed from the course readings, the other shared by a guest to the session, a fellow professional and former student in the Global Alumni Relation Course. Both focus on the themes of building internal alignment and support for investment in global alumni relations.
- Before Session 4: Participants and their working groups will identify three global alumni relations challenges that they (individually and collectively) are seeking help to solve, improve, and/or change. How can closer relationships with internal or external partners help these efforts? What are next steps? How does one approach these partners and describe the motivations for working together? At the start of the session #4 on October 28, each working group delivers a 5-minute report. Everyone will receive feedback from all participants.
- During Session 4: After working groups share and receive feedback on identified global alumni relations challenges, we focus on building a strategy by using and sharing course takeaways with clear objectives every 3 months. Review suggested metrics to include in a 12-month Global Alumni Relations Project Plan.
- During the Bonus Session (date TBC), participants have an opportunity to share and/or demonstrate how they have begun to apply the key points of their individual Global Alumni Relations 12-month Project Plans. This bonus session is an opportunity to receive feedback from other participants and the instructor.
Expert Series Design structure
Participants will receive 6 hours of instruction and as well as asynchronous assignments to complete with their fellow participants in the course (estimated time requirement between 4-6 hours). The instructor-led synchronous sessions will include four meetings of 90 minutes each via Zoom (UAlbany) plus a 60-minute Bonus Session (details below).
• Tuesday, Jan 7 – 4-5:30pm EST (9-10:30pm GMT)
• Thursday, Jan 9 – 4-5:30pm EST (9-10:30pm GMT)
• Monday, Jan 13 – 4-5:30pm EST (9-10:30pm GMT)
• Thursday, Jan 16 – 4-5:30pm EST (9-10:30pm GMT)
• Bonus Session – To be scheduled 30-60 days after conclusion of module
Instructions for connecting to synchronous sessions and accessing the online material will be provided after registration.