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Alumni Participation Comes in Many Forms

For alumni, post-Berklee involvement with their alma mater has many possible meanings. When one Berklee alumnus was asked how he defined participation with the Berklee community, he replied "taking an active role in the development and daily functions of the college, whether contributing ideas, offering financial support, or working as a representative." According to another, it's "vitally important for alumni to 'reimburse' Berklee for the outstanding experiences the college provides."

I agree with these definitions, and they are just two ways of giving back. We hope that alumni will continue their relationship with the college once they no longer reside within Berklee's physical walls. It's essential for the future of the college as well as for the next generation of musicians to continue building the ever-expanding, worldwide Berklee community.

In a recent survey of alumni that offer their support, 64 percent said that they do so because they want to give back. These respondents say they have benefited from the support of others who came before them and want to continue to "pay it forward" to current and future Berklee students. Such participation improves the experience and education of our students. Alumni involvement not only affects young musicians but also increases the value of the education that alumni received. With Berklee's ever-growing reputation, more and more alumni now find doors open to them because of their Berklee education.

The college receives gifts ranging from $5 to $1 million. But there is something more important than the dollar amount donated; giving is in effect voicing your vote of confidence in Berklee and in the education it provides. Currently almost 2,000 alumni participate in this way each year-a number that does not represent overall alumni satisfaction with the Berklee experience. As Berklee approaches foundations, corporations, and friends of the college for support, the amount of alumni giving is a critical factor in encouraging these donors to give. If 50,000 alumni throughout the world each gave just $50 a year, the resulting $2.5 million would have a huge impact on the student experience.

When we asked Berklee alumni about how the college can inspire more alumni to participate, we received great feedback, which the Alumni Office will soon implement. The suggestions included offering more networking opportunities, having dialogue with students, holding panel presentations with industry experts, teaching students about philanthropy, using Facebook and other social media, and more.

One way to participate is by telling us what the Alumni Office can do for you, which services you need, which events you would likely attend, and the frequency with which the college should contact you. We welcome your comments and look forward to working closely with you in the future.

In the coming months, we will send out an alumni survey that will give you the opportunity to shape the efforts of the Alumni Office by encouraging even more alumni to participate. Please take this opportunity to share your ideas with us.

Music is a means through which people connect and communicate, and the Berklee Fund and the Office of Alumni Affairs are dedicated to helping alumni connect with one another and with the college to broaden personal, professional, and musical networks. Your participation can come in the form of speaking with students, responding to e-mail from the college, connecting with us on Facebook, making a gift, or encouraging students to attend the college. Alumni are the fruit of the college, and we are dedicated to providing opportunities for you to continue developing and engaging with one another and with Berklee. Remember, participation comes in many forms and sizes. Ultimately it is the fact that you do participate that truly makes a difference.