Board of Trustees hear updates on Penn State Alumni Association

September 17, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Despite the challenges faced throughout the past 18 months, the Penn State Alumni Association has continued to uphold its mission of service to members, alumni and the University. 

During the Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 17, Alumni Association CEO Paul Clifford provided an overview of the Alumni Association’s ongoing impact on Penn State, its students, alumni and friends. 

“The Penn State Alumni Association maintains its strong position,” Clifford said during his address to the trustees. “We continue to be the most powerful alumni network in the world, with our current alumni numbers totaling 742,662 alumni worldwide.”

Earlier this year, Penn State was ranked the No. 1 college for networking in the United States by College Magazine. The ranked list of 10 schools includes Virginia Tech and Stanford in their top five. This year, the Princeton Review once again ranked Penn State as having the “Best Alumni Network” for any public school on its list. 

Life membership with the Alumni Association increased by more than 1,300 members to 122,620 – an all-time high, and life members now account for almost 72% of total association membership. Overall, alumni account for 83% of the membership population, with the remaining 17% (or 29,403) comprised of students, parents and friends.

The Alumni Association continues to measure its impact through its six program pillars: 

  • Spreading the good news of Penn State and her alumni;
  • Building and sustaining lifelong relationships;
  • Harnessing the power of the Penn State network;
  • Supporting and enhancing the student experience;
  • Celebrating academic achievement; and 
  • Serving as tradition keepers.

Keeping alumni connected for life happens when alumni participate in many of the Alumni Association’s special events and over the last year, through its virtual offerings, the association engaged more alumni than ever before.  

In April 2020, the Alumni Association debuted its online presence for virtual events – PSAA Presents. Alumni were invited to register to join the association live for each virtual event, and each event also was livestreamed on social media platforms and recorded for later on-demand viewing.

In the last year, the association offered over 285 virtual events engaging more than 100,000 participants through a wide variety of offerings including coffee hours featuring alumni guests; a virtual speaker series featuring Penn State faculty and staff; Football Letter Live; special interest events including Paint Night; and even a virtual We Are reunion week – packed full of engaging ways to connect with the University and with other attendees.  

Another way the Alumni Association strengthens ties back to Penn State is by continuing to empower alumni to help other alumni. Alumni Career Services helped facilitate more than 36,000 connections this year through career counseling sessions, mentoring activities, networking events and virtual career sessions. The association’s career services team also drastically increased virtual offerings during the pandemic to match the unprecedented economic uncertainty faced by Penn Staters. 

Affiliate group networking further extends the Penn State experience to all alumni where they live or through their special interests. More than 280 volunteer groups engage over 3,000 active volunteer leaders and 65,000 alumni through this network with many offering their own virtual events over the last year. 

Overall, the Alumni Association has endowed funds that this year topped almost $95 million, providing substantive programming, scholarship support and alumni engagement in perpetuity.

An example of Alumni Association support on behalf of Penn State and its alumni, is through the creation of a new endowed Renaissance Fund scholarship named after the Alumni Association. The Penn State Alumni Association was the 2020 Renaissance Fund honoree, joining a long list of inspiring Penn State philanthropists, and becoming the first organization to be recognized with this award. 

“Another example of our support is through our 2021 partnership with THON. THON is an important cause for our alumni audience and for the third year in a row, the Alumni Association sponsored the THON Pep Rally,” Clifford said. “While this year’s Pep Rally wasn’t the THON White-Out we have witnessed in past years, we look forward to working with THON student leaders to return this great tradition to THON 2022.” 

This spring, the Alumni Association continued to help support the University’s institutional priorities by keeping diversity, equity and inclusion efforts front and center. 

The Black Alumni Reunion committee held a virtual happy hour event in December 2020, and in March 2021 hosted a virtual “Campus Climate Conversation.” This event provided information on how Penn State addresses racially motivated attacks, outlines resources available for students, and addresses ways that alumni can help make Penn State a more equitable, inclusive and safe environment. 

This is one of many events hosted by the Penn State Alumni Association that focuses on diversity. 

Even during an unprecedented season without fans. Last season, the association’s new weekly Football Letter Live show helped fill the void for alumni and fans. The association also participated in several other opportunities, including sponsoring the football team’s signing day, and the creation of an S-Zone banner within Beaver Stadium that honored the classes of 2020 and 2021.

Regarding overall organizational indicators, the Penn State Alumni Association continues to experience highs in revenue — realizing almost $13 million in the last year. Specific outcome data on the Association’s Scorecard is available at alumni.psu.edu. 

“Rolling into the fall, the Alumni Association is poised to continue our outreach work in a variety of meaningful ways – all guided by our new strategic plan,” Clifford said.  

The plan, which is available in full on the Alumni Association’s website, positions to serve alumni in a more modern and efficient way for decades to come, and includes priorities organized under the following themes:

  • Personalize the alumni experience.
  • Lead with a member-first mindset.
  • Continue to strengthen our “We Are” community through diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • And optimize organizational efficiency.

To learn more about the Penn State Alumni Association, its impact, events, membership and more, visit alumni.psu.edu

Last Updated September 17, 2021