A 21st-Century Alumni Association

Reimagined membership program meets the wants and needs of today’s alumni

“Our inaugural alumni likely would not recognize today’s Alumni Association in practice, but would certainly appreciate its spirit and comradery,” says Christy Moss, UIAA vice president for membership and marketing, who’s spent the past six months collaborating with stakeholders to reengineer the membership program. (Image by Jeff Dahlgren)
Reimagined membership program meets the wants and needs of today’s alumni

Illini Pride binds the more than University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, maintaining the lifelong connections that are forged by an Illinois education. In 1873—six years after the establishment of the Illinois Industrial University—20 graduates realized the benefits of staying connected and started what would become the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

The intervening 148 years have brought myriad changes to both the U of I and the UIAA. While socialization remains a key component, today’s UIAA provides much more—from networking and career development to programs and special events to a growing online community at IlliniLink (illinilink.illinois.edu).

 “Today’s Alumni Association is being upgraded and reengineered to reflect what alumni tell us they need and want in the 21st century,” says Christy Moss, MS ’17 is, UIAA vice president for membership and marketing. “Our inaugural alumni likely would not recognize today’s Alumni Association in practice, but certainly would appreciate its spirit and comradery.” Moss spent six months canvassing and collaborating with various University stakeholders to determine what offerings would best enhance the alumni experience.

UIAA membership brings together alumni for such events as pre-game tailgating at Grange Grove. There, they can enjoy live music and entertainment, a family zone, student tailgates, corporate hospitality, the Fighting Illini Team Walk, the Marching Illini pregame show and Game Day Spirit merchandise booths. (Image by L. Brian Stauffer)

Access athletics, the arts and more

A new suite of benefits emerged from those collaborations. They are designed to strengthen alumni connections through a range of new campus-wide activities and opportunities.

 Fans of the Fighting Illini—Get involved with more pre-game tailgating activities through a partnership between the UIAA and the University’s Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. Ticket discounts also are available, including up to two flex tickets to a home game in any sport.

Patrons of the arts—Enjoy perks at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Krannert Art Museum, including access to exclusive online and in-person events associated with performances and exhibits. Alumni also can get priority ticket access, as well as discounts on programs and related merchandise.

Lifelong learners—Access select electronic journals, textbooks and statistical datasets through the Alumni Association’s partnership with the
U of I libraries. In addition, the UIAA has forged an alliance with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, offering discounted membership and continuing education opportunities.

Career connection candidates—Take advantage of opportunities available through IlliniLink’s Career Connections and the UIAA’s partnership with career services programs. Polish your professional image via résumé reviews, career counseling, practice interviews and connections
to mentors in every field.

 Loyal Illini—Show your school spirit with Block I–branded gear! UIAA membership includes a 10 percent discount on Illinois merchandise at the Illini Union Bookstore.

UIAA members enjoy exclusive events at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. (Image by L. Brian Stauffer) An alliance with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers access to continuing education. (Image courtesy of OLLI at Illinois) Résumé reviews and other counseling services are available for UIAA members. (Image by Monkey Business Images/123RF)

News sources, new savings

UIAA members will continue to receive Illinois Alumni, the UIAA’s quarterly, award-winning magazine, as well as the monthly @Illinois e-newsletter and the new UIAA Engagement Digest. Members also now have access to Spotlight News, which bills itself as the Spotify of online news sources. It affords a curated and customizable news digest culled from sources such as the Chicago Tribune and The Daily Illini.

PerkSpot, an online association, offers UIAA members exclusive discounts and perks at local and national businesses and services. Popular IlliniLink programs such as the Speakers Series, the Illini Book Club and the Virtual Cinema Series will continue to expand as well.

When the UIAA’s initial director Frank Scott, 1901 LAS, looked to formalize the UIAA in 1904, he initiated a membership fee. This revenue model sustained the Alumni Association for well over a century, but was suspend in 2008 as part of an organizational restructuring.

 To meet requests for enhanced services and premium benefits, the UIAA is reinstituting an annual membership fee, with the University’s Life Members exempt in recognition of their longtime allegiance. “An overwhelming number of alumni have let us know that they would welcome an opportunity to support their Alma Mater in this way, especially given the increased services and additional value that membership now brings,” explains Jennifer Dillavou, ’82 ED, UIAA president. “It’s a win-win.”