Alumni association launches social network to connect students, grads



The Our Northwestern website, a new social network for NU alumni, is currently in beta testing. The website is intended to improve communications between the University and its alumni.

Olivia Exstrum, Reporter

The Northwestern Alumni Association is launching a new, community-based social network connecting students, faculty, parents and alumni later this fall.

Through the program, called Our Northwestern, participants will be able to search the alumni directory, connect with various clubs, network with other members of the NU community and start conversations about topics concerning campus and beyond. Users log in using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google Plus.

Natasha DiPrima (Medill ’92), spokeswoman for Alumni Relations and Development, said Our Northwestern aims to foster alumni engagement, provide tools for students involved with alumni clubs and “improve communications between the University and alumni.”

“Our alumni are the key products of Northwestern and an important manifestation of the University’s excellence,” she wrote in an email to The Daily. “Our alumni leave their mark on society through their professions and lives and, in doing so, proudly represent Northwestern first-hand in communities all across the world.”

The idea behind Our Northwestern, DiPrima said, stemmed from discussions within the NAA Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees. Those involved in its development not only wanted to encourage more active participation from alumni but also to improve the ways in which they communicate with NU.

“The University wants to continuously engage with alumni,” DiPrima wrote.

NU has about 200,000 alumni spanning the country and the globe. Joe Balistreri (Weinberg ’81), knows the importance of alumni and the work of the association. Now an attorney in Milwaukee, Balistreri has a daughter, Teresa, who is a Medill freshman.

Although previously not very involved with the alumni association other than receiving the magazine, Balistreri said he plans on doing more now that his daughter is at NU.

“I think that for me, the best thing that the association does is keeping us informed as to what other classmates are doing,” he said. “The magazine has a section that will mention someone getting married, someone’s kids getting married, someone passing away. It keeps you up to date with your classmates.”

McCormick junior Margaret Kirk, president of the Student Alumni Alliance, knows the impact of an alumni network. Some student-alumni events include career panels, NU Day at Wrigley, an etiquette banquet and the well-attended Dinner with 12 Strangers.

Kirk, whose parents are both NU graduates, is excited to see more interaction between students and alumni.

“I know what great people come out of this school,” Kirk said. “They are all incredibly interesting people with lots of knowledge to share, and it is great to connect with them.”

The Our Northwestern website is currently in open beta testing and can be accessed by alumni, students, faculty and staff at The official launch is expected to come later this fall.

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