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A Strategic Plan for Engaging Santa Clara Alumni  l  September 2017

Strategic Plan

Our Landscape

SCU's integrated strategic plan

During the past several years, Santa Clara University has laid out a comprehensive blueprint for its future. Published in 2014, the Integrated Strategic Plan defines a bold vision that reinforces SCU’s mission and values while positioning us for growth and distinctive excellence. Fundamental to achieving this plan is the most ambitious fundraising campaign in our University’s history.

To obtain baseline measurements and clearly understand the perceptions of our largest constituency, the Alumni Association commissioned an Alumni Attitudes Survey in 2015 (see Appendix A). This survey, coupled with our 2016 analysis of alumni volunteer giving, identified a direct correlation between alumni feelings about the University and alumni activities with the University. More specifically, those who feel they are still part of the Santa Clara community, are 2 to 3 times more likely to be engaged physically, digitally, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, and philanthropically with the institution.

Image 2 - Alumni Engagement and Giving Chart


A New Vision

To proactively contribute to the success of the University’s Integrated Strategic Plan as well as respond to the feedback and attitudes of our Bronco family, the Alumni Association is proud to offer a new vision for Santa Clara alumni. This document sets forth a roadmap for both defining and enabling meaningful change. Our goal is to inspire a revolution in the way SCU engages and stewards its alumni to advance Santa Clara’s transformative goals.


Our Alumni

 "The real measure of our Jesuit universities
lies in who our students become."

~ Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach
29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus 

  • 98,000 alumni living in all 50 states and in over 100 countries around the world
  • 56% male, 44% female
  • 57% undergraduate, 43% graduate
  • 40% of our undergraduates have graduated in the past 15 years
  • 2% of our undergraduates were on campus when the school was all-male
  • 65% of all alumni live in California
  • 47% of all alumni live in the greater Bay Area
  • The University does not have complete race and religion data for our greater alumni community. However, we have included the full demographic profile of all alumni who participated in the Alumni Attitudes Survey, which includes self-identified race and religion data, in Appendix A.

Image 3 - Alumni Demographics Updated

In addition to their global presence, our Santa Clara graduates are valuable to the institution in three distinct and meaningful ways:

1. WHO WE ARE | Lifelong Stakeholders: Alumni are lifelong stakeholders and the University’s largest constituency group. Regardless of geography, background, or career choice, Santa Clara Broncos are bound together by a shared experience that shapes who they are, how they think, and what they do. Our alumni remain part of the Santa Clara Family—connected to their education, the institution, and one another—for life.

Alumni our largest constituency final edited

2. WHAT WE DO | Reflect the Mission: Alumni represent the best of the University in their work, lives, and local communities; their very actions reinforce our values, and in doing so, enhance Santa Clara’s reputation and national visibility while making our world a better place.

3. HOW WE DO IT | As Passionate Contributors: Passionate and proud of their alma mater, our graduates have the ability and desire to contribute to the University in many ways. Not just with dollars—but also volunteer time, jobs, internships, expertise, ideas, advice, goods and services, advocacy, resources, mentorship, classroom speakers, word-of-mouth referrals, athletic team support, student recommendations, research opportunities, networks, brand influence, and personal connections.


Our Responsibility

Our alumni are passionate. There are no better fans of Santa Clara University – no more caring group of competent, conscientious, and compassionate leaders – each making his or her mark on the world in a unique way. Our opportunity and, indeed, our responsibility, is to embrace these alumni as relevant and respected lifetime members of our community; as valuable—in both word and action —as the 9,000 currently enrolled students. Our strength lies not with separate alumni and student constituencies but one unified group of engaged and appreciated members, brought together through their shared passion for a Santa Clara education, affection for fellow Broncos, the richness of our community, and a desire to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world.

one word that summarizes SCU


Defining Change. Enabling Change.

In response to our changing world, and in support of Santa Clara’s Integrated Strategic Plan, we must embrace a modern alumni engagement model based on timeless values and innovative concepts.

Our Big Ideas and Key Priorities are the foundational pillars of this Strategic Plan. They articulate the initiatives needed to inspire and mobilize our alumni. The outcome of these efforts will result in advancing the University’s vision, emboldening our financial vitality, and successfully reaching our $1B Comprehensive Campaign goal while enhancing Santa Clara’s reputation and national visibility.



To achieve Santa Clara’s long-term goals, we must embrace our alumni as lifelong stakeholders in the University.

"When so many of the civic bonds in our society have fragmented, colleges and universities should be binding agents, convening authorities to bring together people of talent at every stage of life. If higher education is going to thrive in the century ahead, it’s time to think of college not as a life stage or a credential, but as a lifelong community for lifelong learners."

~ Matthew Rascoff and Eric Johnson,
Reimagining College as a Lifelong Learning Experience

We must include alumni as a formal and integral part of our University ecosystem. We must facilitate deep engagement between our alumni and the University—reflecting a two-way relationship that develops, evolves, and matures throughout the many stages of life. This union will deliver an ongoing commitment from our alumni to the health of the institution and create lifelong advocates for SCU’s mission and goals.


The University’s approach to its alumni influences everything—what we do (and what we don’t do), why we do it, and how we do it. Ensuring alumni achievements, viewpoints, and engagements are interwoven into the University’s vision, mission, strategic goals, public communications, administrative management, and day-to-day workflows will allow our campus community to truly embrace alumni as lifelong partners while reinforcing the value of a Santa Clara education.


From the moment a prospective student considers attending Santa Clara, the Bronco Journey begins. Every encounter—from a student’s first-year application to his or her 60th reunion and beyond—offers a meaningful moment to deepen connection to the University. Identifying critical alumni touch points will allow us to better understand the journey and maximize every University interaction.



"One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people. Tribes can be powerful forces of influence and change because each one is a movement waiting to happen, a group of people just waiting to be energized and transformed. A movement is thrilling. It’s the work of many people, all connected. All seeking something better."

~ Seth Godin, “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us"

It is time for us to assemble our SCU tribe, share our stories, and engage alumni in truly meaningful ways so they remain deeply invested in the future of Santa Clara.

Indeed, the more we allow our alumni to be involved in the direction of our institution, the closer our relationship will become. As Mark Zuckerberg said in a recent interview, “You can make change, but in order for it to be sustainable, you need to build a movement to support it.”

As we pivot to the future, we must invest in our alumni by inspiring them to invest in us.


Some of the most successful companies—Lego, Starbucks, Harley Davidson, and Nordstrom—have active and engaged brand communities, which Harvard Business Review describes as “a group of ardent consumers organized around the lifestyle, activities, and ethos of the brand.” In recognition of our own group of “ardent consumers,” establishing a Bronco Brand Community will give alumni a platform to advocate for SCU in their communities while also giving them a welcomed voice to share ideas, opinions, and advice that informs University strategies and activities. By cultivating a sense of University citizenship among our alumni, we will develop stronger brand ambassadors for SCU.   


Accelerating our efforts to foster a deep sense of school spirit, history, and tradition among students and alumni will reinforce a culture of pride and commitment to other alumni, their alma mater, and to society.

Key Priority #5: ONE FAMILY

With graduate and international alumni making up 47 percent of our alumni population, we have an opportunity to define a more intentional and integrated approach to engaging all alumni in the Santa Clara Family.



Ultimately, alumni judge Santa Clara by the role we play in their own success and advancement. We will gain their attention, trust, and support by being “surprisingly relevant and wildly useful” by providing opportunities for lifelong learning and personal and professional growth.

Key Priority #6: RECENT ALUMNI

With over 40 percent of our undergraduate alumni having graduated in the past 15 years, it’s necessary to design an aggressive, collaborative, and comprehensive recent alumni game plan.


We must create more personalized and targeted messaging, deliver relevant and useful content, build effective customer feedback channels, and strengthen our digital presence and online engagement.


We can help all Broncos feel close to SCU, even if they do not live close to SCU, by offering geographically-focused events, communications, and digital connections.


In addition to geographic connections, we will add value by engaging alumni around industry knowledge sharing, network building, and virtual and in-person programming.


To affirm the value of all members of the SCU Family—regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social status, gender, religion, age, or economic status—we shall pursue new programs and activities to engage alumni based on culture, identity, affinity, or interest with renewed focus on traditionally underrepresented or underserved groups.


Those who have the best experience as students develop the strongest, most positive, and most steadfast relationships as alumni. Reevaluating and refining a comprehensive student engagement program is critical to our long-term success.


Alumni Association Commitment

"SCU is an excellent source of enrichment, both for young people starting out in life and alumni who benefit from an enduring positive influence. Great scholarship and positive socialization yield rich blessings."

~ 2015 Alumni Attitudes Survey Respondent
Class of 1975, Male, Undergraduate, Arts and Sciences

Vision: We believe a strong Santa Clara Family makes the world a better place.

Purpose: It is the fundamental role of the Santa Clara University Alumni Association to foster passion for the University, inspire lifelong connections, and encourage Santa Clara values to live on within the SCU family while motivating alumni to participate fully in the institution as doers, donors, and ambassadors to others.

Commitment: The Alumni Association will, by 2022:

  • Uniquely engage 35 percent of our contactable alumni (a 35 percent increase in the number of alumni currently engaged)
  • Drive 1 million points of alumni engagement
  • Deliver an annual Alumni Association Implementation Blueprint that aligns programs and achievements to the Big Ideas and Key Priorities set forth in this Strategic Plan.

Alumni engagement will be measured through event attendance, alumni leadership roles, volunteer activities, financial support, and online engagement.

Outcome: Achieving our engagement goals will assist the University in reaching the Comprehensive Campaign goals of $1B raised and 28 percent undergraduate alumni participation in giving (an 8 percent increase in alumni participation and 51 percent increase in the number of donors), all while growing Santa Clara's national reputation and visibility.

outcomes for the University and Alumni


All in for SCU

SCU President Michael E. Engh, S.J., stated in his 2016 University Convocation address, “In the heart of Silicon Valley and practiced in the art of Ignatian discernment, we are compelled to read the signs of the times, reflect on our circumstances, and rise more fully to our potential in service to our students and the world.”

Santa Clara is at a pivotal moment in its history, and our alumni are well positioned to help shepherd the institution through this exhilarating, but critical time of change.

We are confident this shift to embrace our alumni will transform our culture—adding depth to what it means for our tribe to be “all in for Santa Clara”—while making the experience sustainable for generations of Broncos to come.



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