Universities Go Online to Reach Alumni Wallets

Article excerpt

College students used to say their goodbyes at graduation and hope to catch up at five-year intervals ever after. But now, colleges are offering alumni services such as lifelong personal e-mail accounts, home pages for each graduating class and regional alumni newsgroups on the Internet, making it easier than ever for former students to keep in touch -- and for college fund-raisers to find them.

The alumni fund-raisers are planning to ride the information superhighway all the way to the bank.

Scads of schools are using the Internet to offer graduates online classes, mentoring opportunities and career placement for life. Such activities fall under the rubric of "university advancement," and even colleges that do not offer such services are debating proposals to give alumni free permanent e-mail addresses that their mail can be forwarded through, even if they change their Internet service providers. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers alumni online conferences that allow groups to have discussions over the course of several weeks. That is particularly handy in planning reunions with classmates who live all over the world. "I think it gets alums to have more MIT mindshare," said Maggy Bruzelius, director of alumni network services, "and that helps us in the long term." Farrokh K. Captain, a 1967 MIT graduate who lives in Karachi, Pakistan, said his university e-mail had helped him keep in touch with classmates. "Previously, I was quite disconnected," he said via e-mail. And Tor Jakob Ramsoy, an MIT graduate and strategy consultant in Oslo, took a negotiations course offered online to alumni last year; it featured live video conferences with 30 students in 10 nations and six time zones. …