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January 18, 2013

Alumni directory opts-in to changes

The University of Chicago Office of Alumni Relations and Development is in the final stages of rolling out a new, more comprehensive alumni directory that Alumni Career Services administrators say will make finding alums in specific career fields easier for students.

Alumni now have to opt out of the program instead of electing to opt in, as before, which according to Senior Associate Director of Career and Affinity Programs Annie White will make the program more inclusive and informative.

In the old alumni database, the Alumni Careers Network, alums could choose to participate in the program and set up a profile with their contact information and career path. But many alumni did not create profiles, and many of those that did updated it infrequently, so their profiles incorrectly reflected their job status and location.

White believes that requiring alumni to opt out of the program will significantly increase the number and diversity of alumni in the database.

“One of the struggles we had with the old directory was that you could type in marketing and San Francisco, and you might get one person, but we know that we have more people in marketing in the San Francisco area,” White said. “We wanted to make it much more inclusive because a lot of people had forgotten.”

The new directory solves the problem of out-of-date profiles by allowing alums to include links to their LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts, and blogs on their page, which will ensure that students and alumni can access the most recent information.

“We know that people don’t usually come back to their alma mater to update their alumni profiles, but they do go to LinkedIn. So as a student graduates and becomes an alum and moves on in their career, they are more likely to use that,” White said.

After a year in development, the new alumni directory opened to the alumni community a few weeks ago for them to log in, update their profiles, and adjust any communication or privacy settings. Following this adjustment period, students will receive instructions on how to access the directory.

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