A university's alumni are its most valuable assets - and if their loyalty and commitment can be combined there are tremendous benefits.
Nanyang Technological University's Alumni Affairs Office (AAO) became a separate entity from the then Alumni and Endowment Office in 2004. It is currently headed by Nanyang University (Nantah) alumnus Mr Soon Min Yam (Class of 1975), who has actively spearheaded a whole host of new ideas and activities as NTU's Director of Alumni Affairs. Under his leadership, the AAO's full-time staff grew from 6 to 20, and the office organises activities almost fortnightly. Mr Soon was formerly with the Singapore Sports Council, but as a result of the recommendations and encouragement of several of his university seniors, he returned to the Yunnan Garden campus after 30 years to play the role of a connector between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and its alumni.
The NTU alumni family comprises graduates of the old Nantah, graduates of Nanyang Technological Institute (NTI) and graduates of NTU from 1991. These alumni from different institutions and eras either had few opportunities for interaction, or they had lost touch with one another altogether. Thanks to Mr Soon's efforts, however, they have finally been brought together under one organisation, with their names in place as part of the NTU alumni database. To date, 30 Alumni Associations have been set up locally in Singapore; and overseas the NTU alumni network covers 40 cities, stretching from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India and China in Asia, all the way to Europe and the United States. The AAO also organises many activities and offers services for alumni; one of the more unusual ones is its marriage solemnisation service. Mr Soon has solemnised more than 200 alumni marriages over the last seven years.
In an interview with EduNation, Mr Soon shared with us his experience in promoting alumni relations.
88% of over 168,000 Alumni are Contactable
There are currently more than 168,000 NTU alumni, and AAO has made contact with 88 per cent of them. This is a remarkable achievement.
"In 2004, when we began to build up the alumni network, we discovered that our alumni database was messy and incomplete. Over the years, AAO was able to gradually update the alumni database through 'Class Agents', many different kinds of alumni activities, alumni reunions, regular alumni publications, and all sorts of correspondence including email," said Mr Soon.
Based on the information in the alumni database, AAO is able to stay in contact with NTU alumni through various platforms such as NTULINK, a quarterly alumni magazine, and ClassAct, a monthly electronic newsletter - and inform them of the University's latest developments and achievements in education and research.
Putting in Place the "Class Agents" System
The task of updating and tracing the contact details of old and new alumni can be a massive one. NTU has managed to do so through the "Class Agents" system led and implemented by Mr Soon.
Translated by: Lee Xiao Wen
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