Academic Departments and Alumni Engagement

Alumni are a crucial link between a department’s past and its future. Discover strategies for fostering strong connections between your department or unit, students, and alumni.


Resources for Departments

For departments contemplating curricular changes, alumni can provide perspective about the program’s value and pedagogical approaches. Over the long term, alumni who remain connected to their department are also far more likely to support it financially.


Resources for Your Department’s Alumni and Students

Alumni achievements give prospective students more confidence in a program’s value and a clearer sense of what they might accomplish. They can also offer valuable insights and networking opportunities for current students, providing career guidance through interviews, panels, mentorship, and connecting them to research, internships, and employment prospects.

  • Alumni and students can join the Duke Alumni Network. The network is not just for alumni, it is a resource for all students. Access to the alumni network starts as soon as students receive their NetIDs. We recommend that departments, academic advisors and faculty encourage students to utilize the network, reaching out to alumni during transitional times (i.e., What is the first year of a graduate program like? What can I do with my area of focus? Do I need an internship?) Here’s how they can get started.
  • Ask a Blue Devil is an online tool that allows students to ask questions or request advice and get matched to multiple alumni by our AI technology. Using this tool, students are more likely to receive a response from an alum than through typical networking emails and it is ideal for busy students who have general questions (i.e., How can I make myself competitive for a job in industry? How many publications do I need to be competitive in this employment field?) and request informational interviews. The Alumni Network is better for students who know which alumni they want to connect within a specific industry or company. Alumni can also ask questions to other alums via Ask a Blue Devil, too!
  • Apply for Student Organization Funding. Duke Alumni Engagement and Development is excited to announce a new way to support student organizations offering funding twice a year. Funds can be used for events, activities, and programming which help facilitate student-alumni interaction and engagement. Learn more about the application at Students Programs and Resources.

Connect With Us!

The Duke Alumni Careers, Mentoring and Campus Engagement team is happy to consult with you on programming as you brainstorm ways to engage your alumni.

Susan Gordon, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice President, Alumni Careers, Mentoring, and Campus Engagement
Contact me about connecting students with alumni for career connections and mentoring

Sara Stevens AM'19
Assistant Director of Graduate and Professional School Engagement
Contact me about starting a group on the alumni network.

Melissa Bostrom, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Professional Development
Contact me about how to create a valuable professional development opportunity for graduate students by engaging alumni.

Angela Eberts
Director of Development
Contact me about alumni engagement if there is an opportunity to cultivate as a donor.

Allison Boyer 
Associate Director of Development 
Contact me about alumni engagement if there is an opportunity to cultivate as a donor. 

In addition, if you would like to recommend alumni from your department for Karsh Conversations or other programming we host, please email Susan Gordon or with the subject line: Attention Campus Engagement.


Appendix: Great Things are Happening at Duke

When you’re thinking about career programming, there are a variety of formats from which to choose, ranging from weekend-long experiences to monthly coffee chats with alumni and current students. Examples of great programs within departments at Duke include: