Bringing Alumni Together, While Apart

April 21, 2020

The first episodes of the Alumni Virtual Connections Webinar Series feature speakers (l-r) Robin von Seldeneck ’92, Lynn Mulherin ’85, and Christina Harris ’14.

During this time of social distancing, MBU’s Office of Alumni Engagement (OAE) has created several opportunities for alumni to tap into the expertise of their fellow MBU graduates and get together virtually. 

“I am so grateful to our alumni volunteers, class members, and my alumni engagement team for rising to the challenge during unique and unprecedented times in order to help us facilitate virtual engagement opportunities and bring alumni together, and to support the work of the strategic alumni initiatives that came out of the all-alumni survey,” said Adrienne Teague, executive director of alumni engagement.

The first episodes of the Alumni Virtual Connections Webinar Series feature speakers (l-r) Robin von Seldeneck ’92, Lynn Mulherin ’85, and Christina Harris ’14.

Alumni Virtual Connections Webinar Series Debuts This Month

“When Amy Davenport of the Alumni Engagement Office reached out to me about contributing to the new alumni webinar series, I didn’t hesitate to say yes,” said Robin von Seldeneck ’92, president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.     

“This series can keep our Mary Baldwin community connected during this unprecedented time,” von Seldeneck continued. “I believe that connecting with others can do wonders for our overall health and wellbeing, especially during this time when our physical contact is limited.”

Launched at the beginning of April, the series features a Mary Baldwin alum or community member speaking about how their experience at MBU has led to career and personal success, and sharing their expertise about timely topics. 

Von Seldeneck, in the first episode, spoke about how to face adversity with forward-thinking solutions, and how she’s leading the library and museum toward virtual engagement with their audiences. 

“It is a great time to reconnect with those we know and love from Mary Baldwin,” said Lynn Mulherin ’85, commissioner for the Florida Department of Education’s Commission for Independent Education, who presented the second installment of the series. “Not only is it a time for nostalgia and memories, it is the time to look forward to the future together, stronger than ever.” 

Mulherin spoke about Leveraging the Power of Technology in Our Digital Economy, sharing insights gleaned from her 25-year career at the University of Phoenix and from launching her own technology platform, Pearls of Wisdom, for sharing and celebrating milestone moments among loved ones. 

The newest edition features Christina Harris ’14, MBU instruction and outreach librarian, on newly curated resources for alumni courtesy of Grafton Library, including alumni and faculty/staff authors.

New episodes will be unveiled throughout April on MBU’s social channels and the “virtual connections” tab on MBU’s alumni website.

Virtual social hours help alumni celebrate Reunion from afar

“While accepting the reality of what is … we chose to remember, laugh, and look forward to doing this again with more of our group,” said Elizabeth Jennings “Liz” Shupe ’70, who recently helped organize a virtual gathering to celebrate her class’s 50th Reunion. MBU’s Homecoming and all on-campus events for spring semester have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Members of some classes who are celebrating milestone Reunion years in 2020 — those from 1970, 1975, 1980, 1995, 2005, and 2010 — joined social hours from home at the beginning of April. As familiar faces filled the video-chat screen, memories and laughter eased the feeling of distance from campus and classmates.  

 

Alumni celebrating their Reunion years gathered for virtual social hours, including (top, l-r) Harriet Marrow Neldon ’75, Kamala Payne Chapman ’05, Liz Jennings Shupe ’70, (bottom, l-r) Suzanne Maxson "Suzie" Maltz ’75, Margaret Bivans “Margie” Fogle ’10, and Amy Facklam née Anthony ’05.

“The saying ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ is quite appropriate for these virtual socials,” said Anne Holland ’88, director of special projects for the Office of Alumni Engagement, who was busy planning Reunion when the pandemic hit. “Since we can’t welcome alumni to Staunton for Reunion, then we will bring it to you wherever you are. What matters is that you connect with your classmates and friends, remember old times, old places, valued professors, and maybe even sing your class song.”

Resources curated for alumni

Also available on the MBU alumni website are lifelong learning resources collected by OAE, and coming soon are new ways for alumni to engage through career and professional development and social-distanced networking opportunities.

“There is such a wealth of free virtual resources available, and our team was eager to create a one-stop shop with easy links to lifelong learning opportunities, digital style,” said Amy Davenport, associate director of alumni engagement.