Alumni Survey Provides Perspective, Shapes UCAA’s Priorities

May 4, 2016

How do UC alumni view their university, and how are those perceptions likely to influence their future interactions with their alma mater?

Those questions are at the core of the UC Alumni Association’s new, extensive survey of its constituents. Conducted last fall, the Alumni Attitude Survey revisits similar research from 2004 and 2006 to provide a look at how alumni opinions have changed over the last decade. And it compares UC’s findings with data gathered from 230 colleges and universities across the country, providing critical context to the way lifelong Bearcats see their alumni experience.

Disseminated largely electronically to more than 100,000 alumni, the study garnered more than 5,100 responses representing alumni from across many decades, various ethnicities, all UC colleges, a variety of geographic locations, different degrees earned, and engagement/giving histories.

“While we cherish our opportunities for face-to-face communication with our alumni, we serve about 290,000 diverse alumni around the world, so we necessarily rely on hard data to shape our organizational priorities, deliverables, and ultimately our ability to enhance the UC alumni experience,” says UCAA executive director Jennifer Heisey, ’97. “This Alumni Attitude Study tracks our progress, compares UC to other institutions, and helps us navigate toward better service to alumni constituents.”

Key survey findings include:

  • 97% of UC alumni, in retrospect, consider their decision to attend UC to be “good” or “great.” That is up from 95% eight years earlier. The percentage calling their decision “great” outpaces the national average.
  • 93% of UC alumni say they had a good to excellent student experience.
  • The UC Satisfaction Index, which is built around responses pertaining to their opinion of the university, decision to attend, willingness to promote the university to others, and their alumni experience, is 82% compared to the national average of 79%.
  • Perhaps the most critical factor in alumni’s minds is the perceived value of their UC degrees. This is influenced not only by their student experience some years ago and their ongoing alumni experience, but also by how they perceive UC’s overall reputation and ongoing progress now. (If they sense UC is on an upward trajectory today, that enhances the value of the degrees they earned 10, 20 or 30 years earlier.)
  • 91% of alumni feel that value and respect for the UC degree has a “critical” or “significant” impact on their opinion of UC. This is slightly higher than the survey results from 2006.
  • Other items with a strong impact on alumni opinion are school ranking, the availability of scholarships, and student accomplishments. Interestingly, the success of Bearcats athletics has a greater impact on our alumni’s opinion about UC overall than the national average.
  • UC scores quite high when alumni are asked, in retrospect, how well their UC educations prepared them for life.
  • More than is found among other schools’ alumni (and significantly more than they did a decade ago), UC grads tend to promote their university to others.

When asked what one or two things are most important to you as a UC alumnus, the top responses include “Reputation,” “Communication,” “Networking,” “Staying connected,” “The value of my degree,” and “Pride.” Alumni appreciate seeing UC become stronger in these areas; consequently, these variables translate into a desire to be more involved as alumni and ultimately support the university however they’re able (which typically changes over the years).

When asked what UC can do for them over the next 5-10 years that would be most meaningful, leading responses included “Keep me informed,” “Continue to improve,” and “Continue to grow.”

“We want our alumni to know: We hear you,” Heisey says. “We intend to keep putting resources toward those areas that mean the most to you, and make it easier and more rewarding to be active in the UC alumni community.”


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