UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA
The University of South Florida (USF) is a rapidly transforming metropolitan university which, until quite recently, had been a commuter school with very few students in residence. Largely as a result, the University had built strong affinity only among a relatively small subset of its alumni. The USF Alumni Association retained Art & Science Group to conduct an alumni study to determine what might create greater affinity among USF graduates, at the same time the university was beginning to build more residence halls, establish strong research programs and connect more deeply with alumni in the Tampa Bay region and beyond.
The alumni association had been working under the assumption that USF alumni wanted traditional benefits and events. They had been regularly promoting USF credit cards, hosting class reunions and programming around homecoming. Our study of 600 alumni ― divided into those in the immediate metro area and those who lived beyond ― revealed that alumni were in fact not very interested in benefits and events at all, but were eager for communications and services from their alma mater. For example, a remarkable 60 percent of those surveyed said they were very interested in receiving communications about USF's research accomplishments. A high percentage expressed interest in continuing education opportunities provided to them by the university.
Based on our findings and recommendations, USF completely reversed alumni association investments. They asked us to do a second study several years later, this time interviewing current students to understand their experiences at USF and expectations following graduation. Four hundred students offered their views on the university experience and their expectations for the transition to life after college, including career networking. This latter study informed how the USF alumni association now encourages students to become future alumni, while also providing important intelligence to the Offices of Student Life and Academic Life about how current students rate their experiences on campus.