Former MSU President John A. Hannah once said, “When the university issues your diploma to you, it places an indelible stamp of approval on you, and you become a part of this university forever.”
With a living Spartan population of about 500,000 worldwide, the MSU Alumni Association works to keep the Spartan family connected beyond graduation and engaged in Spartan achievements.
“Our whole reason for being is to create an environment of Spartans helping Spartans,” said Scott Westerman, executive director of the association. “We want to make it possible for Spartans to connect and benefit from those connections.”
The Alumni Association offers a variety of career and educational services as well as connection opportunities in order to help Spartans across the globe launch a career, get settled, save money, learn something new, reinvent themselves and retire or find a friend, according to the association’s website.
Alumna Kristin Burgard, who received her master’s degree in business in 2001, said she does not feel connected to MSU despite being impressed by the quality of students and teaching staff. She said she may have developed a stronger connection had she used employment searching services or other services that the association now offers, but being an older student with real world experience allowed her to jump back into the professional world rather quickly.
Before Westerman took the position of executive director almost five years ago, he said the association focused on what alumni could do for the university. Westerman said he felt the aim of the association should rather be what could the Spartan nation do for each other in this international community of Spartans and set out to try and evolve the association.
The original purpose of the association was to garner financial support for the university via donations and contributions from successful alumni, according to the website. While fundraising for support of the university is still a key component of the association, it now has resources that help to give more Spartans the chance at success.
The association allows “friends” of MSU wishing to support the university to become a member for an annual fee of $45. This fee gives members access to other benefits like deals with local businesses and at the university.
“We really (have become) the central pivot for aggregation of everything cool that’s going on in the Spartan nation,” Westerman said. “(As a member you) get to take advantage of the immense power of that network.”
Alumnus Beau Preston, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2002, said he still feels very much connected to MSU and revels in the camaraderie that is always present in the stands during game days.
He said being around Spartans anywhere is a very family-like atmosphere, whether you know the individuals or not.
Though he may not be on campus or in the stands of Spartan Stadium on a typical day, Preston said that his “first and foremost association (is as) a Spartan.”