By the Numbers: Aim 8: Create a robust alumni, donor and community engagement program

Sunday, August 6, 2023 - 6:00am

Summary of Activities

In 2022-2023, the college expanded its engagement with alumni and donors nationwide. We continued to host regular Drinks with the Dean events, which provided the opportunity for alumni to engage with each other in their local community. In 2022-2023, the college hosted Drinks with the Dean events in Minneapolis, Omaha, Lincoln, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Denver, Nashville, New York, Dallas and Kansas City.

In November 2022, the college held a Ribbon Cutting to officially open the Don and Lorena Meier Studio. The studio was made possible through generous donations from the Nebraska Broadcasters Association and the Don and Lorena Meier Foundation. The event attracted more than 100 faculty, staff, students and alumni and featured remarks from representatives of both the Meier Foundation and the Nebraska Broadcasters Association.

In March 2023, the college hosted an opening for the Pepsi Unlimited Sports Lab. The Lab was made possible through underwriting contributions from Pepsi-Co of Lincoln. The event attracted over 50 faculty, staff, students and alumni and featured remarks from Kirk Anderson, CEO of Pepsi-Co of Lincoln.

Alumni Jane Olson, former Human Rights Watch Board of Director chair, visited campus twice during the academic year. In November 2022, she visited campus and gave a public talk about her recent book World citizen: Journey of a Humanitarian. She visited campus again in March 2023 to be honored as the college’s Alumni Master. Olson again spoke in classes and at the annual Medallion Dinner hosted by the Nebraska Alumni Association.

In April 2023, the college hosted Jenna Johnson, deputy democracy director for the Washington Post, as the featured speaker in the Seline Lecturer Series on the Future of Journalism. Johnson spoke about how polarization and misinformation erode democracy.

Also, in April 2023, the college hosted Diane Brayton, vice president and general counsel for the New York Times, as a Hearst Visting Professional. Brayton spoke in several classes about the importance of the law in media.

In the fall of 2022, the college put out a call for alumni to engage in curriculum review committees. The committees met in spring 2023 to provide feedback on the college’s four undergraduate majors to ensure they meet industry needs and align with the ACEJMC learning outcomes.  

Committee members were provided access to an overview of the college’s curriculum and all syllabi for courses in the major reviewed. They completed a survey to provide feedback on each of the programs. Committee members then met with faculty in each major to review the feedback and make recommendations for improvement. Members of the Curriculum Review Committees included:  

Advertising and Public Relations 

  • Anna Fobair (2018), account supervisor, Ketchum 
  • Kelly Mosier (2006), senior director of Hudl studios, Hudl 
  • Jim Vranicar (1990), COO, Signal Theory 
  • Tyler Riewer (2004), creative director, Charity:Water 



Sports Media and Communication  

  • Sean Callahan (2003), owner/publisher, HuskersOnline 
  • Chris DeRuyscher (200), senior director of ballpark entertainment, Texas Rangers 
  • Anthony Galvan (2009), VP of brand and communications, HUDL 
  • J.J. Jurgens (1998), senior writer, producer, CBS Marketing  

In spring 2023, the college launched a dean’s advisory board to counsel the dean on the college’s priorities, strategies and goals. Board members serve three-year terms and meet quarterly to exchange ideas and provide feedback on the future of our industries. Members of the Dean’s Advisory Board include:  

The college also continued to engage local alumni and professionals as professionals-in-residence to mentor students enrolled in the Experience Lab. The PIRs for 2022-2023 were: 

In October of 2022, the college launched an annual scholarship brunch, to connect scholarship donors with the recipients of their generosity. The event acknowledged each scholarship recipient and provided photographs of the donors and recipients. The inaugural event featured remarks from Greg Andersen, CEO of Bailey Lauerman, who established the Bailey Lauerman Scholarship for Student Opportunity the previous year, and Dulce Garcia, a senior advertising and public relations major who received the scholarship. The college will continue to host this event annually, with the 2023 event scheduled for Nov. 4, 2023.

In the fall of 2022, the college launched a Comprehensive Campaign fundraising committee to support college fundraising activities as part of the University of Nebraska Foundation’s “Only in Nebraska” campaign. This five-year fundraising campaign aims to raise $14.7 million to support the college’s strategic priorities by 2027. The comprehensive campaign committee includes:  

  • Charlyne Berens, professor emeritus and former associate dean  
  • Eric Brown, (1967), president, Rural Lifestyle Marketing 
  • LaSharah Bunting, (1996), CEO, Online News Association 
  • Randy Essex, (1983), environmental and health editor, Detroit Free Press  
  • Randy Hawthorne, (1992), product manager, Nelnet 
  • Margaret Holman, chair, (1973), president, Holman Consulting 
  • Meg Lauerman, (2000), communications consultant 
  • Jim Lauerman, (1969), retired founder, Bailey Lauerman 
  • Mario Scalora, director, UNL Public Policy Center  
  • Jay Wilkinson, (1988), founder and CEO, Firespring 
  • Jeff Zeleny, (1996), chief national affairs correspondent, CNN  

Review of the Targets

Task Name




25-26 (goal)

Increase year-over-year attendance growth at alumni events by 10%[i]





Establish baselines and increase year-over-year alumni utilization of career development services by 10% each year





30% of undergraduate majors will be engaged in a mentor relationship





Increase the number of repeat annual donors by 15%[ii]





Increase the number of new  donors by 15%[iii]






Event attendance grew during the 2022-2023 academic year. However, a downward trend was noticed at the end of the fiscal year that coincided with a new event NU Foundation event management system, AlumniIQ. The college has taken steps to address the downturn but will need to monitor registrations and attendance to ensure adjustments were successful.

The college will need to consider how to measure alumni participation as new career development services aimed at this audience are established.

The college participated in Husker Connect, a digital mentoring program hosted by the Nebraska Alumni Association. However, data revealed that while students were signing up (likely due to a requirement in JOMC 20), only ten students have ever contacted alumni in the three years the college was on the platform. As a result, the college is discontinuing its participation in the program. Professional mentoring is established through the JOMC 20 and Experience Lab Programs. A question will be added to the senior exit survey in 2023-2024 to ensure that students develop mentoring relationships.

The number of repeat donors and new donors both fell during fiscal year 2023. The strategic planning committee will examine likely causes for the decline to determine if the decline is unique to the college or a result of the economic downturn. The committee will coordinate with the NU Foundation to develop a plan for reversing this trend.

Review of the Strategies

Task Name



Increase engagement between scholarship recipients and donors (e.g., One-for-One, thank you videos, awards celebration)



Establish a professional development program for alumni and working professionals that provides skills and training on current industry needs



Develop a college-wide mentoring program through HuskerConnect for students to work with alumni and industry partners



Engage alumni and industry partners in the planning, implementation and evaluation of the experiential learning lab



Create and build alumni affinity groups that regularly connect and engage with college activities in regional communities and online



Become a central source for alumni hiring and looking for their next opportunity



Create content strategy that features current students within the college and the work they are doing that is supported by donor funding (e.g., Perry Photo Challenge or Summer Internship)



Establish a capital campaign committee to help identify influential alumni and potential donors and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships



Expand career development services to provide career coaching and advising for graduate students and alumni seeking to launch, advance or change careers




Uninitiated: Indicates that work has not started on a strategy beyond a couple of initial conversations

In Progress: Indicates that work is actively ongoing on the strategy

Finished: Indicates that all work is completed or that the remaining work is maintaining the existing level of activity

[i] Fundraising/alumni event data from the Foundation provided by Dane Coulson combined with JotForm registrations from college-organized events.

[ii] Data provided by Dane Coulson at the NU Foundation

[iii] Data provided by Dane Coulson at the NU Foundation