Chicago office connects alumni

A good amount of students you meet at Marquette say they come from Chicago. Of course, a good amount of those students actually come from farther out suburbs like Naperville.

Regardless, Marquette has a large population of students who come from the Chicagoland area, and an even larger amount of alumni and parents situated in and around the Windy City.

In order to improve communications with these groups, Marquette opened an office in downtown Chicago in the summer of 2008.

The office is located in the fittingly named Marquette Building at 140 S. Dearborn St. in the heart of Chicago’s “Loop.” Marquette does not own the building.

Lynley Stephany, director of regional development in Chicago, said given the number of individuals in the area with Marquette connections, it made perfect sense to open up the office.

“There is a great number of people in and around Chicago that have ties to Marquette,” Stephany said. “With our location, it makes it that much easier to get in contact with alumni and parents.”

The office is staffed with six employees from University Advancement. Their main tasks include engaging the over 25,000 alumni and parents in the Chicago area and fundraising for the university, Stephany said.

The Chicago office has been somewhat of a testing ground for new ideas and initiatives that may lead to similar offices across the country, Stephany said.

“Our location affords us the opportunity to contact directly with alumni and parents,” Stephany said. “The more we can engage, the likelihood of them giving back to the university increases.”

The office serves as a hub for several other departments when their business brings them to Chicago.

“Admissions and many others have used the office as a sort of headquarters,” Stephany said. “We’ve had all the deans come down for a visit, as well as lots of other faculty and staff. “

The Chicago office’s location and alumni-oriented focus allow for events and fundraisers to be tailored to specific alumni.

“We can concentrate on specific industries, instead of a general field,” Stephany said. “For instance, we’ve had alumni and fundraising events focused just on real estate or communications that are held to specifically interest people that are in that area.”

Stephany said that in addition to alumni relations, the office is looking to make fundraising, especially for scholarship aid, more of a priority.

Tonise Paul is one of many people with whom the Chicago office has been able to contact and create a relationship. Paul, the mother of Christian Harkna, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the office is a great idea.

“Marquette has really passionate alums and parents of students,” Paul said. “It’s wonderful that they created this office to continue to cultivate relationships.”

Even though alumni and parents are the focus of the office, students are still welcome.

“If students have a job interview or other business in Chicago, our office can act as a ‘home away from campus,’” Stephany said. “We’ve got wireless and other necessities a student would need to set up headquarters.”

Currently student recruitment isn’t a focus, but at least one student thinks it would suit the office well to give it a try.

“I went to school (in Chicago) with a lot of kids who had never heard of Marquette,” said Michael Kunkel, a junior in the College of Business Administration. “I bet that if the office had some kind of recruitment strategy it would benefit the university and lots of prospective students.”