Alumni Engagement in a Mode 2 Institution

There is no doubt that man has evolved over the centuries. This evolution has seen the culmination of a rich knowledge economy. The role of universities over this period have contributed significantly to the benefit of a well-informed society.
As students graduate from their Alma Mater (a Latin term referring to one’s educational institution from which one graduated), they become known as alumni of that institution.
The Da Vinci Institute is a private provider of higher education and cultivates managerial leaders through its Mode 2 approach of trans-disciplinary and heterogeneous engagements.
The Institute has approximately 2000 students, of which 76% are over the age of 35 (Da Vinci Profile document, 2016). As adult learners, these individuals have other commitments in terms of work responsibilities and family obligations.
Voorhees & Lingenfelter (2003) define adult learners as “…someone 25 years of age or older involved in postsecondary learning activities” In this context, these learners are described as non-traditional students as they differ from younger students who have the opportunity to study fulltime and do not have work and/or family commitments.
Donovan (2014) highlights this view by stating “According to the National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES), 8.4 million adult learners were enrolled in higher education in 2010 and their enrolment is expected to reach 10.3 million by 2021.”
Although the above statistics are specific to the United States, it does paint a picture worldwide that in fact, more adults are taking up learning and development.
With an underlying view of the fact that Da Vinci students have busy lives, it is only natural to form an alumni association that can be moulded to fit the lives of these individuals.
Some feedback received from alumni, highlight the need to be included within the Da Vinci journey. An MSc alumnus of The Institute who graduated in 2012, Mr Cory Botha stated that what he requires is “a place where research and knowledge is furthered, and I want to be part of that.”
Mr Allen Mutono, also an MSc alumnus who graduated in 2011, advised that he would like regular engagements that are themed with current management challenges.
These statements are supported by Mr Willem du Plooy, a Diploma alumnus of 2012, who states that he “wishes to feel a part of The Institute”.
The brand promise of The Institute is to ‘co-create reality’ and this sentiment compliments the idea of customisation and personalisation. In this frame, Da Vinci has identified various roles in which alumni can add value in their own time, to both themselves as well as The Institute.
Two high level types of engagement have been observed in terms of alumni interaction. This can be noted in terms of ad hoc engagements, as well as more full time engagement.
Ad hoc engagements refer to the participation of alumni at regular monthly events facilitated by The Da Vinci Institute. The attendance of these events by alumni are subject to time availability and the value proposition that is perceived by these individuals.
Full time engagements refer to an ongoing interaction where alumni participate as faculty of The Da Vinci Institute. The ongoing interactions of alumni as faculty are formalised through the procurement and contracting of these individuals by both the Academic office as well as the Client Engagement team.
In conclusion, the emphasis of our engagement with alumni should be focussed on what business projects Da Vinci alumni are involved in, as opposed to the traditional view of what pecuniary value could be harvested from them.
As alumni become involved in Da Vinci activities at their own accord, the community of life-long learners will naturally grow as long as care, understanding and value is experienced by alumni.
REFERENCES
CSU Online ValuED Blog. 2016. Non-traditional Students are the New Traditional Students. [ONLINE] Available at: 
[Accessed 21 June 2016].
The Da Vinci Institute. 2016. Da Vinci Profile by Storm Thomas – issuu. [ONLINE] Available at:
[Accessed 21 June 2016].
Voorhees, R. & Lingenfelter, P. 2003. Adult Learners Adult Learners and State Policy and State Policy. [ONLINE] Available at: 
[Accessed 20 June 2016].