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Alumni Ambassador program creates new connections

Luther+Ambassadors+Grant+Preheim+%28%2718%29%2C+Sam+Poppen+%28%2718%29%2C+and+Harleigh+Boldridge+%28%2718%29+pose+with+Cross+Country+Assistant+Coach+Kirk+Neubauer.
Luther Ambassadors Grant Preheim ('18), Sam Poppen ('18), and Harleigh Boldridge ('18) pose with Cross Country Assistant Coach Kirk Neubauer.

Luther Ambassadors Grant Preheim ('18), Sam Poppen ('18), and Harleigh Boldridge ('18) pose with Cross Country Assistant Coach Kirk Neubauer.

Photo courtesy of luther.edu

Photo courtesy of luther.edu

Luther Ambassadors Grant Preheim ('18), Sam Poppen ('18), and Harleigh Boldridge ('18) pose with Cross Country Assistant Coach Kirk Neubauer.

Anthony Ramón Pérez Soto, Staff Writer

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The Admissions Office, along with the Alumni Office, launched the Alumni Ambassador program this past summer. The program consists of a $1,000 scholarship for each academic year to a student that has been referred or nominated by an alum.

The program set an initial goal to provide 500 scholarships to the class of 2022.

Assistant Director of Admissions Alyssa Ritter (‘11) was appointed as the coordinator and the permanent manager of the program. Although there have been similar ideas aimed to increase enrollment and strengthen alumni connections, this is the first program of its kind at Luther.

“This is an idea that, to some extent, has been in place for a number of years,” Ritter said. “We have always tried to encourage alumni involvement with the Admissions Office, but with this new name program, it is the first time that we are marketing better and reaching out to all alumni to be involved in a team.”

Ritter said that the program will reach across the country and beyond. There are 33,956 alums in all 50 states of the country and 104 in foreign countries.

Alums are encouraged to participate in college fairs, students’ receptions, and to distribute promotional material. This program aims to encourage alum participation in the recruitment process.

“Any student that is connected to an alum is eligible to receive this scholarship,” Ritter said. “We have so many alums that live internationally right now. We want to increase alums participation and hopefully increase enrollment, knowing that these connections are valuable influences in someone’s life and it gets more of a call to action for alums to be able to share their Luther story.”

Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Development Services Sherry Alcock is hopeful that the program will stay in place over years to come.

“We believe that this program will not only help us to increase our enrollment, but to build upon our alumni connections to the college,” Alcock said. “This program will be a permanent part of our admissions strategy.”

Vice President for Enrollment Management Scot Schaeffer said that he hopes the program will grow.

“It would be wonderful at some point if this could be an endowed program,” Schaeffer said. “Maybe we could work to that.”

Schaeffer shared some of the ways in which alums can contribute to this program.

“If you are a younger alum, you can influence students coming to school here,” Schaeffer said. “If you cannot donate [financially], you can donate your time.”

President of the Alumni Council Julie Grotnes (‘85) highlighted the vital importance of alums’ contribution to Luther.

“[Being the President of the Alumni Council] provides me a unique opportunity to give back to the college and provide counsel as an [alum] on topics such as student recruitment or networking ties to the campus,” Grotnes said. “We have a great story to tell and we all want more students to get to campus. This is a unique way to highlight Luther as a key option for college following high school graduation.”

According to Ritter, effective communication with alums will impact the program positively and ensure its future.

“Over the next few years the hope is that individuals do not forget to refer but constantly think of students to refer to our office,” Ritter said. “Ongoing communication with alums to give them updates, to keep them in the loop is important. We worked to overcome that challenge by redistributing duties in our office. We want alums to be aware of the program.”

Although the initial goal of this program was to provide 500 scholarships, as of Nov. 19 there were 766 referrals. The deadline to refer high school seniors was Dec. 1.

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The student news site of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa