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Alumni cards open doors for services, engagement

Card offices increasingly called upon to share issuance expertise

We often talk about the importance of the student ID, the many services it facilitates and how vital it is for students to carry their card with them wherever they go. But what happens to a student ID when its carrier is no longer a student at all?

Graduation for many students marks the last time they have to use their campus card, particularly if the card isn’t tethered to some kind of bank account or the student moves away from campus. And yet, if you ask many college graduates they’ll likely still have their student ID somewhere nearby.

Whether out of habit or sentimentality, many continue to carry their campus card, and it’s this idea upon which the alumni card is built.

“We have seen a number of schools start to issue cards to their Alumni, right now it’s still a minority but the number is increasing,” says Fred Emery, director of OneCard sales at Heartland Campus Solutions.

Alumni cards at Alberta

The University of Alberta’s ONEcard office has been issuing its Alumni ONEcards since 1996 as a means to keep alumni engaged with the university beyond their time on campus.

“We have a strong campus community and whenever possible we like to keep our community members – both past and present – active on campus,” says Jennifer McNeill, ONEcard financial lead at the University of Alberta.

The university has a holistic view when it comes to alumni, and alumni cards act as an extension of that view. “If Alumni are here to use our climbing wall, grab a coffee, register in a program, volunteer for an organization, donate to our endowment funds, or buy a sweatshirt: it’s all an investment in our campus as a whole,” says McNeill.

Last year, more than 800 Alumni ONEcards were issued from Alberta’s card office. “There is no cost to the individual for the alumnus card, as costs are split between the Recreation Center and the Office of Alumni Affairs,” explains McNeill.

Uses of Alberta’s Alumni ONEcard include:

  • Library privileges
  • Sports and Recreation privileges on campus
  • Discounts at the University of Alberta Bookstore
  • Discounts on computing courses offered by the campus Technology Training Center
  • Access to Career and Planning Services
  • Alumni House use for hosting special events

When it comes to issuing the Alumni ONEcard, Alberta employs a familiar formula. “Just like current students and staff, alumni must come to campus to pick up their ONEcard with a piece of government issued photo identification,” explains McNeill. “That said, we understand that working graduates may have challenges being present at our office during regular office hours so alumni photos may be submitted online via our web site, or a photo can be taken at the Physical Education and Recreation Center, which is open evenings and weekends.”

Alberta’s ONEcard office sets up the alumni account, verifies status, prints and delivers the finished card to the rec center. Rec center staff checks the individual’s government issued ID and issues the card, explains McNeill. “It’s a bit of work for the card office behind the scenes, but a simple process for the alumni making the request, which is the most important part.”

Alberta goes mobile

With a view to the future of alumni engagement, the University of Alberta plans to include a mobile credential that could extend to the Alumni ONEcard.

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