Sunday, February 15, 2015

SIUC Linguistics Alumni Coordinator

I am asking for help with this job because I am semi-retired, I'm busy, and I don't know how many more TESOL Conventions I will be able to attend. I think it's extremely important, to SIUC, to its graduates, and to the future of Linguistics. I hope somebody will help.

There is a Facebook page which one keeps an eye on. I could be more aggressive about being sure each of its members is an actual graduate, but I consider it good enough to keep it free of spam and keep its messages related to the department. It does not specify that it is for alumni, but the current students have other active pages that they use more regularly, and this one is mostly for alumni.

Every year at the TESOL Convention, we try to have an SIUC gathering. Sometimes it is poorly planned, nonexistent, or poorly attended. SIUC Linguistics has a huge community, important in the TESOL world, and if those who attend the conference know about the gathering, and are able, they will usually drop by and say hello. Most are successful ESL/EFL professionals spread around the world. One year the President of TESOL was a Saluki and he stopped by. Many of our grads were at SIUC at a different time than I was (I was at SIUC 1994-2012) but I have come to meet some who were there before me, and some who have arrived since. Needless to say this would be true for any alumni coordinator. You would get to know them and learn what era they occupied.

To me, these grads are SIUC's greatest resource, yet SIUC barely knows about it. If the Alumni Office ever tried to reach me or find out who or where these folks were, I never knew about it. It could be that many of them have joined the Alumni Association separately and want to maintain relations with their specific department separately, but I tend to believe that, since there is a price to maintaining a relationship with the Alumni Office, they prefer to stick with the department itself.

Our shining moment came a couple of years back when the department was in danger of being extinguished entirely, and the Chair asked if alumni could simply report where they were, what they were doing, and how they were using their MA degree. I used the list of e-mail addresses that has been passed down to me, and simply asked everyone. The response was significant, and I forwarded it all to the Chair. People higher up got a sense of who our graduates were and what they were doing. To make a long story short, the department was saved (there were other reasons, too, I'm sure), and I felt vindicated.

I maintain that e-mail list, but I'd like to hand it over to someone. There's an unspoken rule: I use it only to tell about the convention reunion, in other words sparingly, and since it doesn't overpower anyone's inbox, people stay connected to us. We don't sell their e-mail addresses and they remain loyal Salukis.

Keep in mind one other thing. Folks who worked at Nakajo for many years have no alumni department, that I know of, so we are it for them as well. They come to the TESOL reunion, and find each other, but rarely do many of them know many of us very well, unless they actually worked in both locations. I don't know about you, but the people I've taught with over the years are in many ways my closest friends; I don't want to lose touch with the lifeline that helps me find them, or at least find out what may have happened to them. Sometimes, if someone is looking for a certain colleague from their era, and this isn't my era, I can't help them right away, or use my meager record-keeping system (I have only e-mail addresses, besides their personal accounts) to find someone who can help them. But as long as we keep some form of reunion / gathering / accounting system alive, there is hope. And that, I think, is important, and I don't want to let that go, and let that fall silently into the depths of my un-dealt-with e-mail. Thank you for reading this far; contact me if you're still interested!

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