Keeping Alumni Connected

April 2, 2019

by Karen Brooks

Penn has approximately three hundred thousand graduates spread around the world. Hoopes Wampler, GRD ’13, wants to engage all of them—a goal he acknowl­edges is a tall order. As associate vice president of alumni relations, Wampler oversees alumni outreach efforts University-wide.

Hoopes Wampler, GRD’13

“My job is never done, but the great thing is that it’s one-hundred percent about relationships, and every day I advance at least one in some way,” says Wampler, who spent a decade working in undergraduate alumni relations at Harvard. There he earned a master’s degree in higher education administration before coming to Penn in 2007. Since then, he has doubled Penn’s alumni engagement.

To keep graduates connected, Wampler and his team manage traditional programming like Alumni Weekend (which last year drew a record-setting thirteen thousand attendees), class reunions, and Penn’s 130 regional organizations and clubs. They also introduce new services like career development, young alumni gatherings, and alumni education—an area that has taken off in recent years.

“All Penn alumni have one thing in common: they came here for the academic and intellectual experience. Our office works hard to make sure Penn remains their intellectual home for life,” says Wampler. He points to growth in massive open online courses (MOOCs) as a significant development that allows his team to expand alumni access to Penn courses and customized alumni education programs.

Wampler enrolled in Penn GSE’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management program to expand his perspective on higher education. He used his dissertation to explore young alumni engagement, a “hot topic” in the field.

“I rely on the research, analysis, and psychology I developed at GSE to better understand how to connect young alumni to the institution,” he says. “Although they’ve just had an incredible uni­versity experience, often young alumni do not naturally stay con­nected to their alma mater. GSE taught me how to think through this challenge strategically,” he says.

Becoming a member of the constituency he serves has also benefited Wampler. “Knowing what it’s like to be a student here has given me important insight and credibility among our alumni,” he says. He recalls that his cohort of twenty-four classmates “helped each other, laughed and cried together, celebrated and commiserated together, and worked hard together,” noting that the friendships he established at GSE went beyond his peers.

“I also built incredible relationships with the professors, all of whom are successful, important people in the higher education space. It’s a privilege to now be able to consider them both colleagues and friends,” he says.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of The Penn GSE Magazine.