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Alums band together

BY MEGAN DIAL | APRIL 15, 2009 7:38 AM

UI alumnus and Fort Myers, Fla., resident Justin McBride assembles watch parties for every single Hawkeye football and basketball game. He calls it his “anchor” to Iowa.

“Going to the university and being from Iowa is a special thing,” he said. “It’s a chance to get together and share some camaraderie.”

McBride is one of more than 50,000 of 234,000 living UI graduates who are members of the UI Alumni Association. The program is more than 100 years old and keeps alumni, former UI faculty and staff, and Iowa lovers engaged in the life of the Midwestern university.

“Membership is really what drives us, it keeps us going,” said Susan Griffith, the Alumni Association director of programs. “It allows us to provide programs and services for the alumni.”

One of the largest services members of the association can participate in is the Iowa Club Program.
Iowa Clubs are groups of alumni across the country, arranged by region. Roughly 60 clubs are active, Griffith said.



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“These clubs do a variety of different things. They do everything from your monthly happy hours … to, of course, game watches,” she said. “They also do a wide variety of community-service projects.”

The Alumni Association is restructuring the Iowa Club program to develop a more definitive structure for the groups.

“It will really allow us to have a much stronger network of alumni clubs as well as, you know, it will help our ability to provide for them and provide them the services that they need to better serve their local alums,” Griffith said.

Three Iowa Clubs are active in Iowa — Council Bluffs, Des Moines, and the Quad Cities. Across the country, clubs are found in Tennessee, Florida, New York, and California.

Nancy Carter, a Memphis Iowa Club board of directors member, is not a UI alumna, but she worked in the internal-medicine department from 1974 to 1993.

The Memphis Iowa Club does several service projects every year, she said, including donating supplies to Iowa troops stationed overseas — like many other groups — and contributing to the Iowa athletics fund.

Carter said the Memphis club also has a scholarship endowment fund approaching $25,000 and is granted to a Memphis student attending the UI each year.

The club is a venue for UI alumni and other Iowans to connect with people who share the same values and culture, Carter said.

“It provides us a way to support the UI and give back what we’ve gained by being associated with the university,” she said.

McBride, who is the president of the Fort Myers, Fla., Iowa Club, said he feels the same way about the Alumni Association.

The Fort Myers Iowa Club members are strong supporters of the Iowa Athletics Association — approximately 120 members gather to watch football games each year and 60 for basketball games, he said.

The Iowa Club program is about more than fundraising and monetary value, Griffith said.

“A lot of this stuff you just can’t put into words,” she said. “In alumni relations, one of the challenges we have is how do we measure our success … it truly is about engaging folks.”


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