Springfield, Ohio — From a brainstorm to a full-blown 8,000-mile cross-country tour, Wittenberg University's first-of-its-kind Witt Nation alumni tour, which concluded Aug. 2, continues to make headlines, including the front page of this week's The Chronicle of Higher Education, the No. 1 resource for news and careers in academia.
Titled "17 Cities, 21 Days, 1,000 T-Shirts," the article, written by Kathryn Masterson, explores how Wittenberg decided to "put three young graduates in a van and send them on a 2008 version of the classic college road trip," July 11-Aug. 2, in an effort to build ties with its alumni.
From New York City and Boston to Dallas, Phoenix, San Diego and major cities in between, the full-time traveling team of 2007 Wittenberg graduates Ashley Petersen, Wittenberg assistant director of alumni relations, Brian DeSantis, assistant director of The Wittenberg Fund, and Ross Ballinger, Wittenberg's new media assistant for interactive communication, connected with more than 1,000 alumni. More than 150 alumni also agreed to share their Wittenberg stories via a video interview at each event. Those clips are now featured on the university's dynamic interactive Web site created specifically for the tour. Blogs and a plethora of photos can also be found on the site, which was recently praised by a marketing blogger for its design and the innovative social media applications used throughout the tour's duration.
The Chronicle story includes comments from Glenn Christenson, class of 1971 and former chief financial officer of Station Casinos, who hosted the Witt Nation crew at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, as well as Chicago resident Megan P. McCann, class of 1993 and president of Wittenberg's alumni board. McCann was on hand at the Goose Island Brewery where the Witt Nation tour stopped July 28-29. In addition to doing a live Webcast from the event, the Witt Nation team engaged with a record-setting 65 alumni throughout the evening in the Windy City. In addition to social networking opportunities, the road crew participated in numerous service projects with Habitat for Humanity and Lutheran Social Services while on tour.
As for transportation and related costs, Ballinger, Petersen and DeSantis traveled the country in a uniquely wrapped van reflective of the Witt Nation theme courtesy of an alumnus who also donated all the fuel for the trek. Another graduate donated cell phone headsets, and another sent coffee for the crew to take with them on the road. In all, the final cost for the cross-country tour was $34,000, which included the purchase of $10,000 worth of computers.
"Wittenberg alumni exhibited genuine kindness, generosity and compassion that through this trip has reinforced what we all know: Wittenberg is a special place where special people go on to do fabulous and marvelous things with their lives and have a true passion for their alma mater," said Linda Beals, director of alumni relations. "The trip was an awesome adventure for all involved – alumni, staff, faculty and students."
With more than 70 full-time writers and editors and 17 foreign correspondents, the Washington, D.C.-based The Chronicle of Higher Education is published 49 times a year. It has a total readership of 350,000, according to the heavily trafficked Chronicle Web site, which attracts more than 1 million unique visitors each month.
Written By: Karen Gerboth