Trend-setting alumni research project examines attitudes and philanthropy

16 July 2002
THE UCT Alumni Relations Department and the Development Office have conducted an international alumni research study, said to be the first of its kind conducted by a South African university.

Over the past 18 months, Shelagh Gastrow, Director of Fundraising in the Development Office, and Patric Mellet, Director of Alumni Relations, have interviewed scores of UCT alumni from all walks of life throughout South Africa, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, to explore alumni attitudes towards UCT and to examine their personal philanthropy. The final documentation of this study will be completed by October.

"This is the first time that any South African university has conducted a survey of this type," said Mellet. "We were struck by the continued camaraderie between alumni and how much goodwill exists towards UCT. Our survey encountered a wealth of talent, expertise and experience that has been built by graduates since leaving UCT." He added that UCT alumni were making a "powerful mark" in academic life, industry, business, science, medicine, arts, culture, law and in the political arena. "UCT alumni have both a national and global reach in this regard," he added.

However, many expressed regret that there had been little contact from the institution since they had left. "Most wanted to reconnect and were enthusiastic about exploring different ways of re-engaging, including personal financial support, guest lecturing, advocacy and governance. A clear challenge exists in this regard for each faculty to establish an alumni desk as most alumni have stronger feelings of affinity to the faculty rather than a general attachment to the institution as a whole," Mellet explained.

While the study was conducted with individual alumni in the different locations, the team also held mini reunions in London, Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Vancouver, Atlanta, San Francisco and New York. "In some of these cities we have now established permanent alumni circles," Mellet said. "We would encourage anyone who has UCT alumni contacts in the areas mentioned to pass on their details to the Alumni Relations Office."

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