Boosting the life sciences through alumni networks – Alumni relations

Alumni Relations

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Boosting the life sciences through alumni networks

EMBL is supporting other life science institutes in establishing alumni relations and nurturing their own networks

Although many life science institutes have begun to engage their alumni in recent years, many more are not yet aware of the potential of investing in their alumni communities. The common goal that unites current and former staff puts life science institutes in a stronger position than many universities or large organisations when it comes to building mutually beneficial networks to aid scientific progress. Alumni also play a crucial role as ambassadors for their former institutions, raising their profiles through highlighting impact and fostering collaboration.

To share its experience and explore new opportunities, EMBL has partnered with CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. CASE are global leaders in the field of advancement (alumni relations, communications, and fundraising). From 8–9 October 2020, EMBL and CASE organised the first summit specifically supporting advancement professionals working in life science institutes.

The summit marked the beginning of a dialogue between colleagues working for various organisations, who were enthusiastic about learning from each other and working together as they build their advancement programmes. In a question-and-answer session the evening before the summit, topics of particular interest to participants included gaining support from senior leadership, starting an alumni engagement programme and establishing a roadmap for its development, effectively building alumni relations online during the coronavirus pandemic, and exploring some of the unique aspects of working in advancement at a life science institute rather than a university.

The summit was chaired by EMBL Director Matthias Hentze and by Bruce Bernstein, Executive Director, Global Engagement at CASE Europe. Sessions were moderated by EMBL staff or other experts and explored ways to deal with the challenges of coordinating alumni networks from a leader’s perspective, as well as how alumni relations, communications, and fundraising can best help to support institutional goals. 

Based on feedback from partners and participants, the summit will become an annual event and will be supplemented by additional workshops. While this inaugural summit had a focus on alumni relations, future summits will focus on all advancement fields in support of life science institutes.

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