Closing the gap
Motivated by his excellent student experience, the value of his education and how much he has enjoyed returning to campus, Mines’ new director of alumni engagement seeks to close the gap between the time students graduate and when they once again become involved with the Oredigger community.
“I love being around the students, and I really want to see the school succeed—that’s the underlying impetus of it all,” said Andy Flynn ’86, ME ’98, who started his new position on December 2 after years of volunteering for Mines, including serving on the Mines Alumni Board.
While earning his bachelor’s degree in geophysical engineering, Flynn played on the football team and was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. “There were a lot of social opportunities,” he said. “I enjoyed E-Days, there was always something to do, we had a lot of fun people to go ski and climb with.”
However, other than meeting former football players, he rarely interacted with alumni as a student. “I always heard stories about them, and they came through in the school traditions and what they had accomplished,” Flynn said. “But I felt that I could have used that kind of interaction as a student—it would’ve been very helpful to learn from them.”
Flynn said it can often take alumni two decades or more before reengaging with Mines, a loss of
an invaluable resource for the institution and its students. “I’ve been on calls with young graduates, and our students really connect with them because they belong in the same generation and they have a lot of questions about their career,” he said. “Closing that gap is really critical.”
Improving engagement with alumni starts with asking them back to campus, Flynn said. “I want to remind alumni that they’re part of the fabric of the school, that they bring value to the students and the institution. I want to give them opportunities to engage with the departments and the programs.”
This connection with alumni is a big part of the MINES@150 strategic plan. “It’s about recognizing where we’ve been, as well as where we’re going,” Flynn said. “It will require increasing alumni visibility and bringing them into interest groups, to Oredigger Camp. Getting them involved now is laying the foundation for the next 150 years.”
While the university has changed, it shouldn’t keep alumni from finding common cause with today’s students. “Speaking with alumni who are grandparents now, they say it was hard. It’s still hard. Because of [the new] amenities on campus, new classrooms, student housing, athletics facilities … there’s a tendency to believe that it’s easier,” he said.
“It’s really important to listen and understand where they’re coming from. They all want the same thing—they want the school to remain the best. And if you look at the rankings, that’s not changing.”