PLU Gold connects recent alumni

By Eric Melver ’96
Educating for lives of service is what we do at PLU. GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) delivers at least one event annually to help make a difference in the Puget Sound. Service events bring out the volunteers in our GOLD alumni community. If you’d like to continue the tradition of service now that you’ve been out of school for a while, consider getting involved with PLU’s special alumni group.

In February, for instance, GOLD organized a workday to provide some much needed maintenance to the space occupied by MLKBallet. The grassroots ballet company was started by four PLU alumni to provide dance classes to low-income families in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. In 2006, GOLD volunteered at Treehouse For Kids in Seattle, a non-profit that serves foster children in the Pacific Northwest.

GOLD also serves it’s constituents by offering post graduate seminars and fellowship events.

Every year, GOLD presents educational events that provide answers to common dilemmas among grads of this period. Last September, we kicked off the first installment in the GOLD Success Series dealing with the topics of financial planning and buying a first home. The committee is busy making plans for fall 2007 to include an international edition of the series that will highlight alumni who have had overseas experiences after graduation.

GOLD also plans many events for the many recent graduates who are now married and starting families. In 2006, family day at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma brought out alumni and their kids for fun in the sun. In August 2005, GOLD hosted a

memorable afternoon at Pacific Science Center in Seattle that included an exclusive tour of the butterfly house and a behind-the-scenes look at the IMAX theater. Watch for more details on another event for the whole family coming this summer.

And for the less domestic among you, GOLD social events at local nightspots are also a fun way to reconnect. This June you can join past colleagues and friends for a collegiate throw back night: happy hour at the Shamrock Tavern in Parkland. Specifics will be posted at www.plualumni.org in April. These events aren’t just confined to the Parkland/Tacoma area. In 2006 we hosted events all over the Puget Sound region and as far away as San Francisco. The GOLD committee is interested in feedback and venue ideas for future events of this kind.You can send your suggestions to gold@plu.edu.

Be sure to keep your e-mail address current so you can receive information about these events. No doubt you have some fresh ideas or may even want to be a part of the rewarding hands-on volunteer work to help make these events happen. Committee chair Susan Andresen ’99 would love to hear from you at gold@plu.edu or you can reach Jacob Himmelman in the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations any business day at 253-535-7415. For a complete list of events throughout the year, go to www.plualumni.org.

Parents plugged in to PLU online

The office of Alumni and Parent Relations unveiled its new Web site for parents last September, including 60 new pages dedicated to streamlining the experience for current parents.

Immediately after the launch of the new Web site, current parents began receiving an HTML-formatted e-mail newsletter in their inboxes called Parent eNews. The monthly newsletter provides links for parents to timely or seasonal content that may concern them or their student.

Jackie Ogan is a current Parents Council member and mother to second-year student Sadie Ogan. “I was introduced to the new Web site in the fall, and what a great tool for parents,” Ogan said. “I like reading about the things that are happening on campus. It provides information I can share with my daughter.”

In November, the Parents Council met for its fall meeting and was introduced to the new Web site. Suggestions were made for subtle additions and changes, most notably the addition of a link to the yearly academic calendar for a listing of vacations and breaks for students. The academic calendar is now posted under “events” on the Web site thanks to the council’s input.

“In many cases, it’s not that the information isn’t already available somewhere else on the PLU Web site,” said Erik Melver, assistant director of programs and services in the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations. “But it’s nice to be able to gather it all up in one place so parents don’t have to go looking for it. The new e-mail newsletter centralizes information relevant to parents so it’s easy to access.”

Parent eNews continues to be delivered monthly to Lute parents all over the world. Currently, eNews highlights up to five main stories per issue. Most of the content is student service-related, including information on academic assistance, financial aid deadlines, choosing and living in a residential hall, and student employment, for example.

“Since we are still in the inaugural year of the eNews we try to report on the most important topics and try not to overwhelm our readers,” said Melver, who is the newsletter’s editor. “We have plans to expand the reach of our eNewsletter by the end of this academic year to include even more information on a whole range of issues.

According to Melver, there are plans in place to produce a similar monthly e-mail for alumni starting as early as next fall.

“I check out the events section often to see if there are things going on when I am in town, or I give ideas to my daughter to check out,” Ogan said. “I think PLU does a good job keeping in touch with parents and this eNewsletter is just another way to do that.”

To take a look yourself you can visit PLU’s main Web site at www.plu.edu and click on the “Parents” link at the top of the page. If you are the parent of a PLU student and you aren’t receiving a monthly Parent eNews e-mail, contact the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations and make sure your e-mail address is up-to-date.

Spring Donor Banquet moves to Sheraton

Due to a major renovation of the University Center scheduled to begin in April, the Spring Donor Banquet will take place at the Bicentennial Pavilion/Sheraton Hotel in downtown Tacoma on Saturday, May 5.

The Spring Donor Banquet is an annual event during which PLU takes a moment to celebrate its many generous donors. Besides good food, it’s a chance for donors to get a firsthand reminder of what their contribution to the Annual Fund and university endowment supports: students. From presenters to entertainment, students volunteer to come and say thank you and share – in their own words and through their art – how much the support of others means to them.

This year’s banquet will highlight and demonstrate the impact the Pacific Lutheran University community has on the city of Tacoma and the many partnerships we share.

Members of the Q Club, Lute Club, Lifetime Giving Society and Heritage Society are invited to this annual event. For information on the event or to learn how you can receive an invitation, please contact the Office of Development at www.plu.edu/deve or by phone at (800) 826-0035 or (253) 535-7177.

Class Reps need YOU!

Class Representatives serve their classmates and the university by focusing on three goals: future building, fund building and friend building. They specifically target their efforts at members of their graduating class, working to maintain support for the university while keeping in touch with classmates.

These volunteers generously support their alma mater with annual gifts and time, and encourage their classmates to do the same.

You may have received a letter from your class representative encouraging you to make your annual gift – please do so. It is important for many reasons to show that a large percentage of graduates support the university. For one thing, the annual giving percentage is a key component of the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of colleges and universities. Foundations and individuals also look at how much support PLU has from within its own community as they evaluate whether to award grants to the university. Class representatives are particularly focused this year on helping to increase the alumni giving percentage.

But it’s not all about raising money. As friend raisers, class representatives attend PLU events, communicate with you through a letter each year and help to recruit new students.

They also help to organize and plan reunion events for their homecoming reunion year. Homecoming 2007 is October 12-14 and reunions will be held for the following classes: 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2002.

Your class representative wants to hear from you. To share ideas and suggestions, or to help plan your reunion, contact your class representative at 800-ALUM-PLU or alumni@plu.edu.

Turn to the class notes section to read a full list of class representatives, and a listing of classes in need of a class representative. If you’re interested in serving in this capacity, contact Laura (Hunter ’03) Rose at 253-535-7178 or 800-826-0036 to volunteer.

Spotlight

By Erik Melver ’96
Chris Inverso ’01

Chris Inverso, a graduate of 2001, has been an active member of the PLU GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) committee since February 2005.

“My introduction to GOLD occurred at a social event at The Swiss in Tacoma,” Inverso said. “I had a blast connecting with people that I hadn't seen for a couple years.”

The committee is made up of volunteers who meet throughout the year to plan and execute events and service opportunities geared toward alumni who graduated within the last 10 years. Their involvement with GOLD is a very personal thing.

“When you boil it all down, I am motivated by two key things: serving others and being an expert in the mortgage and real estate industry,” Inverso continued. “My involvement in GOLD ties in to my primary desire to serve others and build friendships.

“The bonus for me is that I get to forge relationships with a lot of other people who I may have the opportunity to serve in a work-related capacity in the future.”

Recent alumni from PLU represent a broad range of backgrounds and career paths, and creating events and programs that are meaningful to all can be a challenge. After all, in the 10 years after graduation, some alumni are married with children, while others are single; some are staying at home with small children, while others are climbing the career ladder. GOLD attempts to span those gaps by holding certain events geared to subsets of alums within this age range.

Inverso was involved in planning the family event at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma last summer as well as a couple social events around Puget Sound in the fall. His favorite, though, was the “Success Series” event in September of last year, he said.

The series brings expert alumni back to campus to give a brief seminar on issues of interest to recent grads. For instance, topics include financial planning, real estate investment and paying off college and credit-card debt.

“For those that were in attendance it was an opportunity to learn from the experiences of other Lutes,” Inverso said.

“If we continue to reach out to GOLD alumni in a consistent, relevant manner we'll continue to grow steadily in terms of the number of alumni that get involved,” he added. “As the momentum of the GOLD alumni group builds, we'll have the opportunity to influence the future of PLU in a profound way. Plus, as we show our support for PLU and for each other we collectively increase the ‘value’ of our degree.”

For more information about the committee and GOLD events, visit the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations’ Web site at www.plualumni.org and click on PLU GOLD.

Pencil us in

Upcoming events

April 13
PLU Chorale Concert, Yakima

April 14
PLU Chorale Concert, Spokane

April 14
PLU GOLD Night on Campus, Dance Ensemble, PLU

April 14/15
Spring Parents Council Meeting, PLU

April 19
PLU GOLD Happy Hour, Seattle

April 21
PLU Jazz Concert & Reception, Astoria

April 22
PLU Jazz Concert & Reception, Olympia

May 5
Spring Donor Banquet, Sheraton Tacoma

May 27
Spring Commencement, Tacoma Dome

April 20
Relay for Life, PLU

May 27
PLU Theatre Cabaret & Reception, PLU

For more information: www.plualumni.org or call 800-ALUM-PLU.

Photo top: PLU GOLD members Mike Pasley, Heather (Ostrom ’02) Pasley, Janelle Nagel '99 and Todd Shively '99 met up at the Columbia Tower in Seattle last July.