For this edition of Almabase Spotlights featuring Liberal Arts Institutions, we shine the spotlight on Whitman College, and how their Virtual Whitman initiative helped them engage with their alumni during the pandemic.
💡 An Idea to use a Virtual Repository to Engage with Alumni
Owing to the rural location of the College’s campus, the Alumni Relations Staff at Whitman College had always wanted to experiment with virtual events to help facilitate better connection with their alumni, who are scattered across the world. However, with the pandemic unfolding, they were prompted to take more concrete steps towards virtual alumni engagement. The Virtual Whitman initiative was born out of the need to engage with alumni virtually during the pandemic, and the results they witnessed were remarkable.
🎥 The Virtual Whitman Initiative
The Virtual Whitman initiative is a resource repository built with the intent of staying connected with each other during the pandemic. This initiative enabled the College’s alumni to have easy access to relevant resources at their fingertips during the pandemic. Some of the resources include recordings of past virtual events, historical archives about the college and the city, and additional information about the academic theme of the year (Race, Violence, and Health), along with a schedule of events that fit this theme. They also have a page dedicated to kid-friendly science experiments that families can perform at home, which is certainly a unique way to keep everyone engaged in the era of social distancing.
With access to past events and a bevy of exciting resources to look forward to, Virtual Whitman has excelled at keeping thousands of the College’s alumni engaged virtually, managed by a staff of four. A hallmark of the College’s events has been the theme of inclusion and diversity, and virtual events play a pivotal part in making these events more accessible for everyone. All an alum needs to partake in the College’s festivities is a smartphone or a computer!
⭐Our Source of Inspiration
Jennifer Dilworth Northam (she/her/hers), graduated from Whitman in 1991 and joined the Alumni Relations staff in June of 2013. She brings 10 years of event planning experience and a wealth of community connections as the former Events and Public Relations Manager of the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation.
Jennifer works with alumni volunteers for the 10th through the 25th reunions each year, and is the Alumni Relations liaison to Varsity Athletics and the W Club. In addition, she manages area events in Portland, Eugene, Spokane, and Minneapolis and edits the Class Notes section of the Whitman Magazine.