Award Date

5-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Robert Ackerman, Chair

Second Committee Member

Vicki Rosser

Third Committee Member

Edith Rusch

Graduate Faculty Representative

John Schibrowsky

Number of Pages

172

Abstract

This study investigated in what ways alumni relations officers use relationship marketing principles, concepts, and bonding levels to strengthen the ties between alumni and their alma maters. Alumni programs and services at select high intensive research institutions of higher education were explored and an explanation was offered for how using relationship marketing in alumni relations might be beneficial. A literature synthesis, drawn from an extensive examination, evaluation, and interpretation of alumni relations and relationship marketing literature, helped to inform this exploratory study. Using a qualitative method of study, data was gathered through interviews with senior alumni relations officers, by observing their department's web page, and by reviewing specified applicable documents. Themes, patterns, and categories emerged providing meaningful findings from this study.

The researcher found that relationship marketing principles were used by select alumni relations officers in higher education. These alumni relations officers designed programs and services that apply relationship marketing principles, concepts, and bonds at the financial, social, and structural level to strengthen the relationship between alumni and alma maters, much like that seen in business literature. What differs from in business were the emotional and intellectual bonding levels found in the university setting. Emotional bonds, as seen through strong passion and a sense of belonging alumni, also seem to elicit alumni wanting to give back to their alma mater. Intellectual bonds seem important to alumni, as well, when alumni engage in educational experiences with fellow alumni and with their alma maters.

Treating prospective students as valued customers before students first arrive on campus until their graduation and well beyond apply relationship marketing in a higher education setting. This application helps to strengthen ties that bind alumni to their alma maters. This study should assist the development of comprehensive and consistent alumni programs and services that encourage alumni to participate at the financial, social, structural, emotional, and intellectual bonding levels. Intended to provide alumni relations officers with a preliminary theoretical framework of relationship marketing, this study should benefit the growth and advancement of institutions of higher education.

Keywords

Alumni; Alumni participation; Bonding levels; Relationship marketing; Universities and colleges — Alumni and alumnae

Disciplines

Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Psychology | Marketing

Language

English


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