Soiree Season: Virtual Engagement Opportunities Continue

Alumni can look to MBU for ways to connect and learn something new during the long, hot days of summer 2020. Through the new Summer Cyber Soirees, attendees can tap into the knowledge of MBU faculty and alumni about timely topics, get a taste of Staunton’s food scene at home, develop professional resources, and much more. 

The events are now held in a live format through Blackboard Connect, the same platform used to deliver online courses to MBU students. After kicking off on June 10, the series will run through September, with a new episode debuting every other week.

Summer Cyber Soiree presenters include (l-r) Janelle Smith ’08, senior research and evaluation specialist for the Mayor of Detroit; Benjamin and Lauren Reed of Staunton’s The Green Room; Dean Emeritus James D. Lott; and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Martha Walker.

The soiree series builds on the successful launching of the Alumni Virtual Connections webinar series and virtual social hours this spring, as MBU’s Office of Alumni Engagement wanted to continue developing great new content for the MBU family and deliver on the feedback from the all-alumni survey.

“We were seeing so much success with the alumni webinars that debuted in April, with averages of 1,200 or more views per episode, that we wanted to take that idea and evolve it into the next phase,” said Adrienne Teague, executive director of alumni engagement. “Now our alumni, MBU presenters, and alumni engagement team can gather together in a live setting online and create that sense of community around a topic of interest, regardless of where you live.”

Summer Cyber Soirees combine socializing and conversation with lifelong learning topics, including:

  • Taste of the Town Cocktail Hour with Staunton restaurateurs Benjamin and Lauren Reed of The Green Room, who specialize in organic, biodynamic, and natural wines and how to pair them with the perfect foods. Register here for the soiree starting at 6:30 p.m. on July 7.
  • Black Minds Matter: What We Can Learn from Liberation Psychology in the Era of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter with Janelle Smith ’08, PhD, former psychology major at Mary Baldiwn who now serves as senior research and evaluation specialist on an innovation team for the Mayor of Detroit, battling against complex social issues like gun violence, food insecurity, housing instability, and access to early childhood education and care. Register here for the online event starting at 6:30 on July 23.
  • Readings from Growing Up Methodist and Q&A session with Dean Emeritus James D. Lott, centered around the importance of the memoir in literature. Watch the recording here.
  • Provost Scholar for a Day” with Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Martha Walker, featuring a discussion of materials across genres and time periods that Walker curated to speak to the current moment. Watch the recording here.

New topics and featured presenters will be announced on the MBU alumni website and MBU’s social media channels throughout the summer. 

In recognition of the alumni engagement team’s efforts to keep graduates connected with each other and with digital resources for career development and lifelong learning, they have recently been recognized for producing a Top 5 Virtual Series of 2019–20 in a competition sponsored by the Council of Alumni Marketing and Membership Professionals (CAMMP). The MBU team will compete for the title spot at CAMMP’s upcoming virtual conference July 13–15, and conference participants will vote for the best virtual programming following the five finalists’ presentations.