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First Monmouth College phonecast brings 4,700 alumni together

Barry McNamara
09/15/2011
The largest gathering of Scots in Monmouth College history occurred on Sept. 13, when the first-ever “phonecast” event was held.

President Mauri Ditzler was joined on the line by dean of the faculty David Timmerman and by Fighting Scots quarterback Alex Tanney, recipient of the 2009 Melberger Award. Don Capener, vice president for strategic planning, moderated the call.

The gathering was made possible by traditional technology with an innovative twist.

“You can think of the phonecast as a return to the old rural telephone party line, except that the party in this case was 4,700 members of the Monmouth College community,” explained Molly Ball, vice president for development and college relations.

Ball added that she was pleased by the connect rate of nearly 40 percent, as approximately 13,000 alumni and parents were called. She said that 1,200 alumni and parents were still on the line after 12 minutes, and nearly 500 listened to the 32-minute call in its entirety.

“The Munley Company, which manages the phonecast, uses the same technology as robo-calls for politicians,” Ball explained.

Five “live” questions were taken by Capener in his moderator role, and he also read two questions that had been sent in by e-mail. Two interactive polls were held and, in one, more than 150 alumni indicated they had a prospective student in mind for the office of admissions’ alumni referral program. In the other, nearly 43 percent named the college's faculty as it's strongest asset. The other options were rich heritage (29 percent), loyal alumni (15 percent) and campus (13 percent).

“It was a huge success,” said alumni programs director Lucy Thompson. “It was a great way for alumni from all over the world to connect to Monmouth College from their own homes.”

“In fact,” added Ball, “we had an alumna who was so excited about the event because she is now living in Japan and could hear the latest information and interact with the president while sitting in the comfort of her living room.”

“The phonecast was a cost-effective way to reach a lot of alumni with important news and updates,” added Capener. “However, it won’t replace face-to-face meetings and the opportunity to go out and meet with our alumni in their respective chapters.”

Capener acknowledged that Monmouth College will continue to look toward new technologies as a way to enhance communication.

“In the future, we plan to use innovations with e-mail and video to deliver similar messages to our alumni and other outside audiences,” he said.

To listen to the phonecast in its entirety, go to www.monmouthcollege.edu/phonecast.