Human rights activist Marina Schuster speaks for Bhutto-Ispahani lecture series.
The University of La Verne uses the social media phenomenon Facebook to help alumni stay connected with the university and with one another.
When University of La Verne graduate Ross Mathews was on the red carpet at the Academy Awards recently, more than 1,350 alumni and faculty instantly knew to watch his interviews.
Malissa Hernandez, La Verne’s Alumni Relations Coordinator, had conveyed this information on the university’s “Leo La Verne” page on Facebook, which features photographs, information about upcoming events, and links. Most importantly, the page offers graduates an easy way to stay connected with the university and with one another.
La Verne, like numerous other universities and colleges, is successfully using Facebook, realizing that it is effective, free and instantaneous.
“I think it’s a great idea, “ said Nancy Newman, a 1989 graduate whose photographs are often featured on the page. “I think it’s a wonderful tool for the university to really reach out and keep us up to date. So many of us alumni are so proud to have gone there and it’s great to see the university doing so well.”
Hernandez said she has been told stories of classmates getting together for lunch or dinner because they reconnected through the Facebook page. One La Verne classmate who had been laid off found a job with the help of friends connecting on Facebook, she said.
Facebook, www.facebook.com, is free and anyone with an e-mail address can join and create a profile. Once you have a profile, you can search for people you know and add them as “friends.” Facebook will also find friends from your e-mail address book and suggest people you might know. To access information on the “Leo La Verne” page simply add “Leo La Verne” as a friend.
Hernandez said the university has had a presence on Facebook for more than three years. While the original page was created and grew as the “Leo La Verne” entity, she recently made a successful transition to the “University of La Verne Alumni” fan page. Hernandez says that, with nearly 1,000 alumni active online and tuned in, sending information out on Facebook is much easier and quicker than disseminating the same information via e-mail.
“Sending out a post (on Facebook) could take under a minute,” Hernandez said. “For me, even as an employee, that is very valuable. The second thing is that it’s free and with this economy, you can’t beat that. The only thing it costs me is my time.”
Ashley Joseph, a master’s student and 2008 graduate who is in charge of a Facebook group called University of La Verne Black Grads Past and Present, said Facebook makes staying in touch convenient.
“I think people want to stay in contact but don’t have time,” she said. “If you’re already on Facebook, why not just look on the black alumni page and the “Leo La Verne” page and see what’s going on?”
The number of people who have “friended” the alumni page is constantly growing. Numerous La Verne groups and departments also have their own Facebook pages.
One of the best features about Facebook is that it’s interactive.
“If I post something on Facebook, whether it’s a link to an article or event, within seconds, I can have comments or people will click on the ‘like’ feature,” Hernandez said. “It helps us create some sort of feeling for what they are interested in. It almost serves as a barometer in that way.”
That was the case earlier this year when a post was placed on Facebook about President Steve Morgan’s plans to retire next year. A dozen people commented, saying they would miss Dr. Morgan’s leadership and that his successor would have large shoes to fill.
The university also used Facebook to spread word about Homecoming.
Historically, La Verne has mailed out a brochure about events during Homecoming weekend. During the most recent Homecoming, however, the university sent out a postcard on recycled paper guiding people to the university Web site and to the Facebook page, where various events were listed.
Hernandez noticed that whenever she’d post reminders about different events on the page, people would instantly respond.
“I would say this year’s Homecoming was a huge success. We saw a lot more diversity, we saw younger alumni and with Facebook, we’re really able to connect with our younger alumni and get them involved,” she said.
The university will soon begin an awareness campaign about the Facebook page. Any time the university has contact with alumni or with students who are about to graduate, those students will receive information about all that La Verne offers on Facebook.
Newman said she thinks people enjoy seeing what’s going on on campus and viewing photographs, which are particularly popular and usually elicit many comments.
“I love the way it has reconnected so many of us that were friends at La Verne,” Newman said. “Facebook has a way of getting us caught up-to-date and melting the years away all at the same time and I love that.”
To access the “University of La Verne alumni” page, go to: