Group connects SOM graduates

As part of a move to initiate better networking among its alumni, the School of Management, or SOM, has an alumni network called “PowerGrid.”

“(PowerGrid) came about because the SOM did not have its own alumni networking event that we hold regularly,” said Kyle Edgington, director of Development and Alumni Relations for SOM. “The school itself has 26,000 alumni, of which 16,000 live and work in the DFW or Dallas area. Not having an alumni event is not taking advantage of the powerful network.”

The SOM is the largest school by enrollment and turns out more than 2,000 students each year, Edgington said.

As the culture among alumni changes and more traditional students graduate out of the SOM, the Office of Alumni Relations hopes to tap into the younger alumni and involve them in PowerGrid, he said.

The first event organized by PowerGrid was in summer 2009 and, until this year, the SOM organized a PowerGrid alumni meet each month. This year onwards, PowerGrid will meet four times a year.

While the turnout at most of the events is about 60-70 alumni, the quarterly meetings have had a better turnout than the previous monthly meetings, Edgington said.

The next PowerGrid event will be on Sept. 8 in the McDermott Suite where UTD President David Daniel will give an address.

Not all events have a formal setting. One of the previous meets this year was organized at a restaurant downtown owned and run by an alumna and her husband, Edgington said.

PowerGrid is trying to grow its web presence to make it more viable for alumni, he said.

“We also have a Linkedin network of alumni and we’re  wondering whether we should fold that in to the university alumni Linkedin group or if we should keep it separate,” said Doug Eckel, associate dean of the SOM. “We’re still looking into how to use social media sites for alumni relations (although) we haven’t used it very much yet.”

In an attempt to capitalize on its alumni, the university is encouraging more alumni chapters to open up, said Erin Dougherty, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving.

Although PowerGrid is the only program specific alumni chapter that exists, it may not stay so for long.

Eckel was recently approached by the Indian Student Association, or ISA, to organize an alumni event for the Indian alumni of UTD, so that current and past Indian students can start a network of professionals.

“(The ISA president) came to us and said he’d like to have an Indian graduate alumni gathering and we feel that that’s really appropriate too,” Eckel said.

No date has been set for this meeting yet, it will likely be scheduled in September, officials said.

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