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Starting a Chapter

How to Get Started

If you are interested in starting an alumni chapter, the Alumni Relations Office suggests the following five steps to help you get started:

Step 1: First things first

First, consider what type of chapter you are interested in forming. There are three basic types of alumni chapters:

  • geographic (i.e., Chicago Alumni Chapter),
  • affinity (i.e., Latino Alumni Chapter), and
  • academic (i.e., Master of Business Administration Alumni Chapter).

Contact the Alumni Relations Office and let them know that you are interested in organizing a chapter.

You can reach the office via e-mail or by calling 734.487.0250.

Alumni Relations staff can supply you with a list of alumni in the area or in the affinity group, review procedures with you, give you helpful hints and suggestions, and provide names of other alumni who might be interested in helping you.

Step 2: Form a nucleus

Select a small nucleus of alumni from your area or affinity group and "bounce" the chapter idea off them. Ask if they think an alumni chapter is a good idea and if they would be willing to help you launch the chapter.

A successful alumni chapter cannot be a "one man show"; you must find other alumni who genuinely share your enthusiasm to help you get the chapter organized.

If you pressure people to get involved, it will diminish the energy and excitement of the group and hamper the development of the alumni chapter. And, if you try to do it all by yourself, you're likely to get burned out and lose sight of why you want to start the chapter in the first place: to have fun and stay connected to EMU!

Step 3: Explore interest

As you begin forming your new group, the Alumni Relations Office recommends surveying alumni to get an indication of their interest in the proposed chapter.

A survey offers you the opportunity to assess general enthusiasm, identify committee members, locate meeting places, identify the kinds of activities that are most appealing to your potential members, and broaden general interest.

The Alumni Relations Office will print and mail a survey on your behalf and will also help you develop survey questions. We will also tally the results and recommend options accordingly.

Step 4: Establish the chapter

If you are able to show a reasonable amount of alumni interest in your proposed chapter, your group will be placed on probationary status and encouraged to elect officers.

The Alumni Office considers "reasonable interest" to be at least 10 alumni who want to be involved in the chapter and at least 4 alumni who are willing to be actively involved in running the chapter.

At first, you'll want to schedule regular board meetings so that the officers can outline a plan for chapter publicity and events and work toward becoming an official chapter.

You should organize the first chapter event based on interests identified in your alumni survey. Success with your early programs and events will help build momentum and solidify chapter support during the establishment process.

The new chapter officers should draft chapter bylaws soon after they're elected. The Alumni Association Board of Directors will review the bylaws and, once they are approved, the chapter will be granted a charter.

Creating bylaws will help your officers think about the mission of your chapter (i.e., social, business networking, scholarships) and how it will seek to serve alumni, students, the University, and/or the community. The Alumni Relations Office will help you draft bylaws and will review your drafts, if you so desire.

Step 5: Have fun!

Once your chapter has been established, it's up to you and the alumni in your chapter to manage and develop your chapter.

To assist you, the Alumni Relations Office provides chapter presidents with a chapter handbook that focuses on topics such as event planning and ideas, recruiting and retaining volunteers, and University resources.

Also included is information about programs and services that the Alumni Relations Office makes available to alumni chapters. With guidance from the Alumni Relations Office, your alumni chapter will be on its way to fostering fellowship and connection to Eastern Michigan University.