A changed world, a vibrant alumni experience

Throughout a year of uncertainty, Rutgers and its alumni did what Rutgers and its alumni always do: push harder, innovate, create. Although we couldn’t gather in person, we found new ways to serve, to celebrate our shared experiences, to learn from each other, and to improve the human condition here and around the world.

A Letter from Debra A. Holston O’Neal and Josh Harraman

Dear members of our Scarlet Forever community:

The past year proved that Rutgers alumni will always come together to accomplish amazing things, no matter what the obstacles are. Through perseverance and teamwork, we adapted to our circumstances and designed ways to gather purposefully without the benefit of in-person contact. We developed new methods for supporting Rutgers and each other, and new ways to better the world.

As the university and the RUAA move forward, we will continue to address the challenges that affect our institution and our communities. We will champion President Holloway’s priorities of developing a Beloved Community, promoting academic excellence, and strengthening university clarity and unity. As Rutgers alumni, we are uniquely positioned to join these efforts by supporting Scarlet Promise Grants, Big Ideas, and other initiatives designed for societal and global transformation.

Below you will find examples of what the RUAA has achieved as an organization and as a family of dedicated alumni, including the successful conclusion of our three-year strategic plan. These highlights demonstrate the excellence of our programming, the spirit of innovation we cultivate, and most of all the positive impact we create when we work together as a scarlet community. You can take pride in your contributions to our continued growth.

Thank you for playing a key role in the life of the university and for making 2020–2021 another engaging year.

Scarlet forever,
Debra A. Holston O’Neal LC’87
Chair, RUAA Board of Directors

Josh Harraman, Ph.D.
Vice President for Alumni Engagement, Annual Giving, and Advancement Communications

We gathered: RUAA events and engagement

A wide range of events brought 7,986 event attendees together virtually during the 2020-2021 year. The total number of gatherings was 139–double the number from previous years.

New Opportunities and Event Growth:

  • 7 livestreamed presentations
  • 28 events with President Jonathan Holloway
  • 60 alumni and faculty webinars
  • 405 alumni attended virtual events for 21 regionally based chartered organizations in the Northeast.
  • Rutgers Alumni Book Club membership grew by 954 to 1575, a 156 percent increase from the previous year.

The RUAA launched several new event series, including:

  • Scarlet Community in Conversation, focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Vision and Voice, introducing new Rutgers leaders
  • In the Moment, exploring timely topics

Attendee testimonials:

Fantastic event! What a wonderful group of participants. Definitely facilitated genuine connections tonight.”

—Attendee of Rutgers Alumnae Women’s Professional Network, Networking Happy Hour

“The presentation was excellent! The docent was articulate and well informed. She really made the experience interesting…this permitted us to see museum artifacts and to hear about history without putting ourselves at personal risk.” —Attendee of National Constitution Center Virtual Tour

“The remarks were beneficial for everyone. Whether you were a…graduate or student, the remarks were inspiring informative, and helpful.” —Attendee of “Professionals of Color featuring Dr. Randall Pinkett”

More testimonials to the effectiveness of RUAA engagement opportunities during the past year:

Thank you for providing great content during a difficult time! Go RU!”

“The virtual programming was extremely interesting, diverse, and well presented.”

The RUAA “has done a wonderful job of putting together interesting virtual events, open for all to attend. Thank you!”

“I think the webinars are fantastic, informative and thorough. They have been a great addition especially during these times.”

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We helped each other: RUAA professional initiatives

Career services

  • 11,471 alumni connected with career services, more than double from the previous fiscal year.
  • 3,096 total jobs, projects, and internships posted
  • 718 posted by alumni for students or alumni jobseekers
  • 2,378 posted for alumni jobseekers
  • 96 percent of Student Alumni Career Connect users reported they had productive and meaningful interactions on the platform.

I got an interview…and I am so excited and happy. I feel like all of my hard work is finally paying off. I wanted to thank you so much for all of your help getting to this step.”

—Alumna who participated in advising session

“Thanks again for your help! I recently accepted a position…I will continue to refer people to your department, as it was very helpful to me.” —Alumnus who participated in advising session

Excitement about the BRAG (Bristol Myers Squibb Resource AWE Group) program: “I wouldn’t be able to make this happen without RUAA staff members. They assisted me with creating, leading, and hosting the first BMS Next-Gen resume workshop last night. I am proud to have them as my partners!” —Atiba Page, diversity and inclusion manager at Bristol Myers Squibb

Alumni Workplace Engagement

  • 8 company partnerships, double the number from last year
  • 61 alumni volunteers, up from 35 in previous year
  • 7 corporate events with 433 participants
  • Summer Speaker series introduced at Bristol Myers Squibb, focusing on women of color in STEM fields: 306 attendees
  • Launch of JPMorgan Chase data science academic program in partnership with School of Arts and Sciences, with 250 participants enrolled for fall season
  • With an increase in engagement has come an increase in giving, with Bristol Meyers Squibb matching gifts nearly tripling: Fiscal year 2020, $30,323. Fiscal year 2021, $88,367

RUAA staff members have been a pivotal force in shaping the future structure of our network and expanding key connections across both organizations. Their lead on diversity efforts has also had a major impact.”

—Christopher Maizys LC’93, managing director at JPMorgan Chase

Praise for the “successful and continuously growing partnership and mutually beneficial JPMorganChase/Rutgers relationship” enhanced through Alumni Workplace Engagement: “We started about 2 years ago with a very loose vision of what we wanted to accomplish…We’ve successfully implemented the RFS Mentorship program.” —Michael Ilcyn ENG’82, executive director at JPMorgan Chase

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We made the world better: Alumni volunteerism and giving

Alumni volunteers performed 75,000 cumulative hours of service in fiscal year 2020-2021.
Estimated dollar value: $2,318,529

More than 100 alumni volunteer leaders participated in live training via the RUAA Alumni Leaders forum, a program that helps members of the Alumni Leaders Council and officers of RUAA chartered organizations connect, learn, and share strategies for building Rutgers pride and support.

30 programs developed by alumni groups helped members connect with their communities.

After the first-ever Raptors vs. Raiders Food Drive Challenge:

I can’t thank you enough for taking on this project, more so in the middle of this pandemic.”

—Neuza Maria Serra, Psy.D., Director, Rutgers–Camden Student Wellness Center

“Thanks for inviting me to speak at Selfies to Social Action. I had such a blast engaging throughout the program. You all did a great job and should be very proud.” —Industry expert and former RUAA Board Vice Chair Amanda Ebokosia NCAS’08

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We advanced: Fulfillment of the RUAA Strategic Plan

Strategic Priority #1: Meaningfully engage alumni based on their needs, interests, and life stages

  • Assess current alumni data
  • In cooperation with the Office of Foundation and Alumni Communications, audit current alumni communications and develop communications plans
  • Define life-stage segmentation best practices (ongoing)
  • Diversity engagement efforts based on alumni needs, interest, and life stages (ongoing)
  • To test new communications, engagement, and solicitation strategies, create an integrated pilot program focused on a group of millennial alumni

In this final year of the strategic plan, in addition to merging the Teach Annual Giving program and Scarlet Council to create a single team focused on engaging Rutgers students, we have drafted a New Grad Engagement Plan that will increase our outreach to alumni in their first five years after graduation.

Recognizing that “one size does not fit all,” we have audited all of our alumni communications to determine how we can better deploy them. One result is that we will be launching a new series of Think Scarlet newsletters, one for each chancellor-led unit, and we will increase the frequency of Scarlet Together, our event and programming newsletter.

We have also introduced a new tactic: Strike Forces. These are time-bound, intensive volunteer experiences focused on areas of specific interest and engaging alumni subject experts. A digital trends strike force held in May was a big success, and a diversity, equity, and inclusion Strike Force will occur early this fall.

Strategic Priority #2: Enhance the reputation of Rutgers through intentional, purpose-driven partnerships and engagement with academic units

  • Develop processes to better identify alumni returning to campus (ongoing)
  • Develop best practices for academic partners that host alumni (ongoing)
  • Demonstrate RUAA value to academic leadership
  • Develop opportunities to showcase faculty, research, and academic priorities
  • Work with chancellors and deans to identify alumni engagement opportunities that support their academic priorities

The 2021 academic year saw the hiring of a newly created senior director of alumni engagement for Rutgers–New Brunswick. This new role focuses on meeting with Chancellor-Provost Francine Conway, development officers, and deans of the schools throughout the year with the goal of drafting a new strategic engagement plan for the flagship campus.

In addition, a newly formed consortium of school and unit colleagues meet regularly to discuss opportunities for collaboration and the development of best practices. Aligned with this development is an increase in the sharing of event and volunteer data from schools universitywide, with improvement measured at 300 percent.

Finally, alumni leadership teams from both Rutgers–Camden and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences have drafted or updated their strategic plans.

Strategic Priority #3: Connect with alumni where they live and work through increased regional and workplace engagement opportunities

  • Gather employee data
  • Create a regional engagement plan
  • Develop a workplace engagement program
  • Identify key corporate partnerships and alumni champions

During this final year of the strategic plan, the Alumni Workplace Engagement team has been extremely successful in forming and enhancing relationships with some of New Jersey’s biggest corporations, such as Prudential, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, and JPMorgan Chase, where Rutgers boasts large alumni-employee populations.

In the area of regional engagement, RUAA engagement officers are now embedded in California and Florida, spearheading outreach to alumni and Rutgers supporters in those states and facilitating a robust increase in gatherings in those areas; cold outreach to regionally based alumni showed a 19 percent response rate, which is substantially higher than the national average.

Strategic Priority #4: Provide value to Rutgers alumni though comprehensive career services

  • Identify certification/continued education opportunities throughout the workplace
  • Create relevance for alumni in various career stages and with diverse needs
  • Develop RUAA in-person career services programs
  • Develop virtual career services programs
  • Replicate alumni career services across locations (ongoing)

This year brought a successful replication of the Rutgers–New Brunswick Career Services model across all chancellor-led units of the university. The Rutgers–Newark initiative has incorporated Student Alumni Career Connect into its programming, while at all CLUs we expanded Career Communities, dedicated user types for alumni and students, and established Handshake integration for job postings.

2020-2021 also saw the launch of a highly collaborative effort with the alumni body: Bridges. This platform allowed alumni to post more than 3,000 jobs, projects, and internships for their fellow alumni and current students.

We saw a 133 percent rise alumni career service engagements such as resume and job search assistance from the prior fiscal year. Our Career Services team will continue to address the full range of professional and job search needs emerging in the alumni community.

Strategic Priority #5: Transform alumni engagement efforts with a data-driven culture of assessment, analysis, training, and action

  • Continue to evolve the engagement metric
  • Develop best practices and effectiveness for data collection (ongoing)
  • Identify reporting needs of RUAA
  • Develop training for RUAA staff
  • Identify methods to streamline data collection of volunteers and event attendees.

Over the past year, our team took a closer look at the engagement metric and produced a series of recommendations for making data analysis more useful to the RUAA and Rutgers University Foundation. More information on that effort will become available in the coming months.

The overall outlook regarding this strategic priority shows us that directors at chancellor-led units have excelled at getting the word out to campus partners about the importance of sharing data. The resulting influx of data will have a decidedly positive impact on RUAA engagement metrics going forward and give us a truer picture of alumni volunteerism, experiences, connections, and giving.

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The RUAA is steadfastly committed to supporting Rutgers and enhancing its capacity to better the world, and this commitment shapes every decision made across our organization. Fulfilling the strategic plan created three years ago has generated new opportunities for making a positive impact among local communities, across our nation, and around the globe.

As we maintain and amplify our collaboration with Rutgers University Foundation and university partners, the RUAA will continue elevating the alumni experience while deploying the vast array of talents and resources that Rutgers’ 545,000-plus graduates so clearly possess. We will never falter in keeping the Rutgers alumni network energized and invested in improving the human condition.

Alumni by the numbers


  • 557,668 LIVING ALUMNI