From the New York Times:

Most people read their college alumni magazines for the class notes, immediately flipping to the back to see who was married, had a baby or was promoted to an envy-inducing job. The columns tend to be meatiest at this time of year — class reunion season.

The advent of social networking on the Internet has created a quandary for these magazines, which want to maintain a conversation with alumni but have been slow to embrace the Web. Most schools have set up password-protected sites where graduates can change their contact information, drop a class note or donate money.

Read the whole thing. Will new Secretary of the Society of Alumni Brooks Foehl ’88 embrace the online world? Time will tell. My suggestions for first steps here.

The online version of Colgate’s alumni magazine is a blog, so people can leave comments about articles and one another, said Charlie Melichar, a spokesman for the university. “Alumni overwhelmingly are the ones making comments on stories, about faculty, to congratulate a team on victory,” he said. “Alumni are certainly not just heavy users — they’re heavy engagers.”

Alumni magazines serve many purposes. They highlight the news and research at their institutions, and serve as prettied-up fund-raising vehicles. But their main appeal — as dormitory common rooms for grown-ups — has increasingly been usurped by Facebook and similar Web sites.

“Over all, universities have been reluctant to embrace social media as a communications channel because they fear a lack of control,” said Sam Huleatt, a Johns Hopkins alumnus. “Most schools now understand that they must establish some presence if they wish to remain relevant in the lives of their graduates.”

No one fears a loss of control more than some of the senior folks at Williams.

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