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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Alumni survey finds great pride in URI

Media Contact: URI Communications, 401-874-2116

KINGSTON, R.I. -- October 13, 2004 -- The findings of a recent survey of University of Rhode Island alumni show that nearly 85 percent hold the opinion that URI is good and improving, 96 percent have great pride in their URI degree, and more than 86 percent believe their degree is helping them achieve their goals.

The Center for Research & Public Policy of Trumbull, Conn., conducted a comprehensive telephone survey of 501 alumni May 3-8, designed to obtain feedback from URI alumni in areas such as awareness, perceptions, communication, alumni participation, alumni activities, and alumni giving. The survey was commissioned by URI’s Division of University Advancement.

“A large majority of alumni, 97 percent, indicated they were 'very satisfied' (67.7%) or 'somewhat satisfied' (29.7%) with their experience as a student at URI,” said Robert M. Beagle, vice president for university advancement. A similar percentage, nearly 98 percent, reported being 'very satisfied' (69.7%) or 'somewhat satisfied' (27.9%) with their academic experience at URI.

The survey maintained an 82 percent completion rate on all calls, indicating that a high percentage of respondents within the original sample were actually contacted and completed the survey, and that the sample used is not biased toward one potential audience. A high completion rate often indicates an interest in the topic.

“These findings are encouraging,” said Beagle, “and particularly useful as we examine our strategies for reaching out to URI graduates. We are always seeking ways to provide our alumni with the information and programming they want and in the form that they prefer. This survey will help us listen to our alumni in much more systematic and comprehensive ways than we ever have before."

Statistically, a sample of 501 completed interviews represents a margin for error of +/-4.5% at a 95 percent confidence level. Each qualified URI alumnus had an equal chance of participating in the study.

Among alumni there was strong agreement in a number of areas, including more than 92 percent stating that they would “eagerly refer a prospective student” to URI, and 88 percent who said they “enjoy hearing from URI.”

A majority of alumni report awareness of URI’s investment of more than $250 million over the past 5 years for campus renovations (72.7%), the appointment of marine explorer Robert Ballard to a faculty position (63.1%), and URI’s Honors Colloquium public lecture series (53.5%).

Strong agreement was found in other areas, as well, such as nearly 73 percent who state that “URI is the source for enduring friendships” and “71 percent who believe that “URI has been moving in the right direction.” More than 52 percent of alumni “still feel part of URI” and nearly 69 percent “feel a personal responsibility to the University.”

Less agreement was discovered in three areas. About 46 percent still identify with their graduating class, while about 43 percent state that their interest in URI sports is strong. Forty one percent believe they only hear from URI when it’s fundraising time.

Slightly more than half of all respondents agreed that URI is responsive to alumni concerns and that the University helps alumni get involved, but that URI could provide more career and networking support for alumni.

Smaller, but important percentages, agreed that they rarely feel welcome when they return to the University of Rhode Island (22.2%), URI could do more to help me stay in touch with classmates (36.1%), and URI provides alumni activities and programs of interest (48.5%).

“When we see results that indicate some alumni rarely feel welcome when they return to campus, that is certainly an area where we will want to focus our attention,” said Beagle. “We believe that the construction of the first ever Alumni Center due to open in early 2005 will help to create a warm and more welcoming environment for alumni.”

Slightly more than half of the alumni surveyed suggest that they have contributed to the University of Rhode Island over the last five years.

“What is most important to us with the findings related to fundraising is where alumni believe their donations should be directed,” said Beagle. “According to the survey, alumni said contributions should be used primarily for scholarships, improving academics, and facility upgrades. Eighty three percent of alumni who responded to our survey consider support for undergraduate scholarships as one of the most important reasons for giving to the University,” he added.

“As we continue our planning for the University’s next comprehensive capital campaign, the goals we set will reflect our alumni concerns and interests. In fact, we know now that we will be building the endowment that will support, among other areas, such undergraduate scholarships,” Beagle said.

Other top reasons alumni choose to donate to URI include the fact that they received a good education at URI and want to give something back for that good experience.

“Anecdotally, we’ve always heard from alumni that they give because there is a strong sense of wanting to give something back for a good experience at URI,” said Beagle. “It’s really reassuring to have this surface as one of our survey findings. It’s good to know that many of our alumni share that commitment to their alma mater.”