Alumni Friday Blue

What the research says might surprise you

Dear Friends,

This week I had a meeting with my fellow alumni to plan our upcoming reunion in May. One of the events is a throwback pub night, reminiscent of our student days (or at least for alumni who graduated in the 1980s or 1990s). 

I wondered; what does the research say about the relationship between university nostalgia and alumni engagement? There remains limited academic research on alumni engagement. 

On my holiday reading list was ‘The Ties that Bind: University Nostalgia Fosters Relational and Collective University Engagement’ (Frontiers in Psychology) by Jeffrey Green and colleagues. The link to the full open access article is here.

Although there are several limitations to this study (including the dearth of alumni-related nostalgia studies cited) the two studies reported how nostalgia does contribute to engagement, including volunteering and reunion attendance. Nostalgic feelings even predicts alumni desire to socialize with fellow alumni – I could relate to this finding personally – I am in daily contact with fellow alumni and my various alma maters!

Here’s a star quote from this study:

Many university alumni never really leave their alma mater. They take it with them, having incorporated in themselves close relationships, university values, and cherished memories. Rather than being a closed chapter in their lives, they reflect on those formative years, and this university nostalgia continues to influence them.” p.15

Does this sound familiar? Or should it sound familiar?

Your challenge this week:

For alumni-facing professionals: Read over the open access Green et al (2020) study on alumni and nostalgia – a fun Alumni Friday activity! Suggest a read along with your alumni team. What resonates about this study for your own organisation’s alumni nostalgia? Consider ways that unique, nostalgic evoking dimensions can be infused into your alumni programming (otherwise any organisation can be providing this programming, no?)

For alumni and students: Consider what made/makes your student experience unique and special at your university. When you explore alumni activities see if any of those feelings of nostalgia percolate to the surface!

Prague is calling you in June 2024! Submit your abstract for the ICARe Conference by 31st of January!

Submit your alumni research! Share your alumni programming experiences!  The International Conference on Alumni Relations (ICARe) is holding its conference in the stunning city of Prague, Czechia on the 13th and 14th of June. A special conference that will resonate with small alumni shops. Consider submitting an abstract to present your alumni research (from your graduate or doctoral studies or independent research) or your stellar experiences in the field to share with this supportive group. 

Deadline for abstract submissions is the 31st of January and you can submit your abstract here

The Alumni Way book is 50% off! 

Bristol University Press is offering a special rate for all its published books until 21st January. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet – now is the time to get alumni inspired! The code is JAN50 that can be used here.

I am in Barcelona, Dublin, Geneva, Munich, and London in the first 3 months of 2024. Are you having an event and want alumni inspiration? Happy to explore ideas with you! Book a session with me here. 

Yours with alumni inspiration,


Quote from the book

“We can also tailor our own alumni experience to fit our interests and our lifestyle.”

The Alumni Way, p. 107



Photo below: Celebrating nostalgia! My mother’s brilliant quilt was made from the t-shirts from my university days