Friday, June 24, 2011
OU alumni in California network, reconnect at OUAA receptionBy Katie Land, news editor
With a sunset view of the Pacific and a light breeze cooling the rooftops, it might be surprising to find oneself in the midst of distinguished Oakland University alumni.
|OU alumni and students gathered in Santa Monica to reconnect this June.
While it was a desire to reconnect with their alma mater that drew nearly 30 OU graduates to a reception at Santa Monica's Shangri La Hotel this June, the scenic setting didn't hurt.
The event came as part of an Oakland University Alumni Association effort to develop regional networks of alumni in strategic areas across the state and country, according to Luke Fleer, associate director of alumni engagement for the OUAA.
Fleer, along with Susan Davies, Oakland's vice president of University Relations, traveled to California to host the reception, and returned with a lot of new ideas.
“We have been looking to create an opportunity for Oakland alums to network with each other and to share their experiences in the new communities they end up in,” Fleer said. “There are a number of ways for alumni to reconnect – they can volunteer their time as alumni ambassadors, support OU groups when traveling, or mentor current students.”
As the west coast alumni were able to reconnect and network with other Oakland graduates living in the area, they were joined by several current students who were out in California to compete in a national competition as members of Oakland's SAE team.
|OU's SAE team traveled to California to compete in a national competition, where they placed 11 out of 84 total teams.
In fact, the springboard for the California event came with the SAE team's travel plans. By traveling at the same time, students were able to meet with California alumni, who were in turn able to support and cheer on the OU team at their competition.
“It's nice to have our current students able to interact with our alumni,” Fleer said. “The alumni were able to hear about new things going on at Oakland and to hear honest feedback about what being a student at OU is like right now. Everyone really loved it.”
Bringing current students to the reception added a whole new element to the event, Davies agreed.
"The Los Angeles alumni were excited to hear updates from campus and to learn about the different ways their degrees have continued to increase in value,” she said. “It was wonderful to hear how an OU education has prepared so many successful people to excel in their careers."
Alumni at the event graduated in years ranging from 1973-2010, in a wide variety of academic disciplines.
Mark Burtler, CAS '73, showed off his OU Letterman baseball jacket, which still fit. Burtler is one of the original members of Oakland's first NCAA Division II baseball team. He earned his degree in sociology and is currently a CEO of Public Health Foundation Enterprises.
Also attending was a recent graduate, Nina Lavelanet, CAS '10, who majored in English and Cinema Studies and moved to California to pursue a graduate degree in film at UCLA; and Roger Fachini, CAS '89, whose Oakland biology degree propelled him to California for graduate work and is now a scientist in Los Angeles.
The success of the Santa Monica event (and of the SAE team, who finished 11 out of 84 teams nationwide) are encouraging to organizers.
Fleer hopes to plan additional events with a similar flavor in different areas across both Michigan and the rest of the nation.
Plans are in the works to host an alumni gathering in Grand Rapids and Traverse City to coincide with recruitment events, as well as trips to Houston and Washington, D. C. that would coincide with the men's and women's basketball schedule.
For more information about the OUAA or to find out how to become involved, view the website at oakland.edu/ouaa.