Institutions benefit immensely if the alumni network is active and strong.
To be back in classrooms to relive cherished moments spent in the company of friends years later used to be the essence of alumni meets. Not any more. Apart from nostalgia, the alumni associations are beginning to serve a larger purpose – contributing back to their alma mater.
Be it infrastructure development, scholarships and grants, placements, guest lectures or industry interaction, the role played by the alumni is significant. It is the illustrious and successful alumni that inspire the student community of a particular institution.
“At the IIT-Madras, the strength is the strong alumni network of people who are all extremely successful in their respective careers,” says Prof. R. Nagarajan. He is the man behind the Ten Dollars a Month (TAM) initiative conceived as a sustainable way to support the Golden Jubilee Alumni Fund, is a method through which alumni can contribute small amounts (Rs 500 per month) periodically.
Funds raised through the TAM will be utilized for scholarships, awards, seminar / internships and infrastructure development. Already, the alumni have donated Rs. 6 crores towards the development of the research park, set up a centre of excellence for optical networks and computing resources. “TAM will ensure a reliable and recurring source of donation on a regular basis. It will immensely benefit the student community,” Prof Nagarajan says.
For the three main institutions under the Anna University (CEG, Madras Institute of Technology and AC Tech) the funds have helped build classrooms, furniture, libraries and a club where the members socialise and spend time. “The 1984 batch of CEG offers scholarships to physically challenged students following a selection process. They also partially sponsor students going abroad for paper presentations. On the alumni day on May 20 every year, around 75 endowment awards for students who excel in various fields including fine arts, cricket, NCC will be presented,” says G. Sakthinathan, secretary, alumni association, CEG.
It is not about the money alone. Alumni motivate present batches by visiting the college and interacting with them. “Their passion for the department reflects when they come back to train us in soft skills and guide us through placements. The strong alumni network is our most important link to the corporate world when it comes to placements and internships,” say C. Rajitha and Bhuvaneshwari K, student coordinators for the alumni network of DoMS, University of Madras.
The Madras Christian College's (MCC) alumni club is one of the oldest in the country (since 1892). There are over 20 chapters of alumni club across the globe and all are actively participating in giving back to the alma mater.
“A dedicated and strong alumnus has many advantages. Intellectual resources are harnessed. Resources are pooled into the infrastructure development of specific departments. Many scholarships and fellowships are made possible,” says Dr. Alexander Jesudasan, principal, MCC. Building a new auditorium, cafeteria and renovation of the library are some of the projects the alumni clubs are working on for MCC's 175 year celebrations in 2012.
Social networking sites are helping alumni associations to grow stronger. Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), has a HR e-group called MicaHR that has job postings in different industries and at various management levels. All the members are alumni of MICA and can post and receive updates. Information technology also enables alumni groups to stay in touch and be updated about their alma mater.
Curiously, the friendship, relations and bonds reinforced through alumni networks remain intact beyond the sprawling campuses. “Two members of my batch regularly visit the family of some of our friends settled abroad and provide support, solace and comfort to the families,” says M.R. Ranganathan, who himself passed out of College of Engineering, Guindy, way back in 1966.