A Welcoming Badger Community

Efforts to engage UW alumni of color are showing results.

Woman and child dance at the Multicultural Summer Picnic at Alumni Park

Guests enjoyed the Multicultural Summer Picnic at Alumni Park in 2019. Amanda Evans

In response to feedback from many alumni of color who have felt isolated or disconnected from UW traditions and activities, the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) developed an Alumni of Color Engagement Strategic Plan in June 2018.

Staff and volunteers worked diligently to listen to alumni and respond to their needs, and a number of the plan’s strategies have already improved engagement with alumni of color.

WFAA hosted a summit with alumni of color leaders and surveyed 22,000 grads from diverse backgrounds, revealing a desire to reestablish affinity groups similar to those that were active in the 1990s. In response, WFAA launched three groups: the African American Affinity Group, the Latinx Affinity Group, and the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Affinity Group. In spring 2021, the organization began the process of launching Native American and LGBTQ+ groups. It also conducted trainings for chapter leaders to outline the benefits of developing a diversity and inclusion team within each chapter to make programming more inclusive.

In order to enhance communications, WFAA created the Badger Vibes monthly e-newsletter, which highlights the achievements of alumni, students, and faculty of color, as well as campus initiatives. WFAA set measurable goals to feature more diverse speakers and topics in its programming, and it also hosted events such as alumni of color receptions, pregame tailgates, and a Multicultural Summer Picnic, which was held in Alumni Park.

To cultivate student-to-alumni connections, WFAA developed a Badgers of Color group within its Badger Bridge program, which links alumni to students and each other for mentoring and career development. WFAA is working to enhance its partnership with the Office of Admissions and Recruitment, hoping to connect prospective students with diverse alumni, and the organization has partnered with campus groups on programs such as Multicultural Homecoming events and the Black Cultural Center’s graduation ceremony.

“We are grateful that our alumni shared their experiences and recommendations for how WFAA could be effective in engaging and connecting with our alumni of color,” says Wisconsin Alumni Association executive director Sarah Schutt. “The new initiatives have established a strong foundation for WFAA to ensure a sustainable commitment to having an inclusive and welcoming Badger community.”

Tags: Alumni, multicultural initiatives

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