Sue Helderop (left) and Erin Sudrovech


Fall 2016

|  by Jennifer Heil Bonacorse, CAS '94

A fresh outlook on alumni outreach

Alumni and Engagement leadership will keep close ties with the University’s graduates and friends as Oakland University continues to grow and alumni ranks exceed 100,000.

Experience and enthusiasm

With her promotion, Sudrovech, who has been with Alumni Engagement for a decade, will be able to use her extensive OU experience in a more strategic role, Helderop said.

Sudrovech said that her priority is keeping alumni engaged and involved in ways that are important and fulfilling for them.

“We keep in mind the life stages of our alumni,” she said. “Just because an alumni graduated in 2015 doesn’t mean that they are 24 years old. Alumni opportunities need to appeal to them at any age or stage, whether they just started a job, are advanced in their careers, have young families or are retired.”

For alumni looking for ways to stay involved, she recommends groups related to their major and mentoring current students for a truly rewarding experience. “They’re helping students learn networking skills, and the students are developing their networks before they even graduate. So many times alumni tell me how much they wish they could have had that.”

Sudrovech will remain involved with signature OU alumni events like the Alumni Awards Banquet and will guide the direction, including strategic planning and philanthropic committees, of the OU Alumni Association board.

“As a relatively young University, we have a flexibility that older institutions might not have when it comes to introducing new programming and engagement,” Sudrovech said. “We’re unique in that our very first graduates are still around.”

Connections and consistency

With Sudrovech in the director role, Helderop moves into the new position of senior director of Engagement, where she oversees Alumni Engagement, events and Donor Relations. “All of those teams have been doing a fantastic job and they have fantastic ideas for moving forward,” Helderop said.

Helderop will bring Events team contributors together from across the University to streamline planning and costs and gain greater purchasing power. “Our events are first-rate and we have incredible talent. It’s an area on which we can really capitalize.”

Donor Relations duties for Helderop, who also has a development background, will include expanding efforts
to include groups “that didn’t fit neatly under the alumni or development umbrellas. We needed to devote more time to seeking out these groups and staying in better touch with them.”

This initiative will target several segments of the University’s key supporters. For example, OU will get back in touch with former student leaders and former foundation board members. Other projects include launching a women’s giving club comprising alumni and non-alumni, the first-ever gathering for graduate alumni during Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, and a dinner at Meadow Brook Hall for nearly 200 OU Lifetime Giving Society members to thank them for their generosity.

President George Hynd, University deans and other leaders will continue meeting with large and small alumni groups when they can coordinate activities around existing travel plans to seminars and other meetings around the country, Helderop said.