As part of a larger effort to extend the university's reach overseas, the Office of Alumni Relations will host the inaugural Johns Hopkins European Alumni Leadership Conference in Brussels on March 1 and 2. The conference will bring together about 40 alumni, mostly chapter presidents and volunteer leaders, with administration members in order to discuss how to enhance the university's visibility in Europe and meet the needs of the more than 3,000 alumni there.
Specifically, conference participants will look into ways to connect SAIS Bologna Center in Italy alumni--who constitute roughly 65 percent of Hopkins' entire European alumni population--with other Hopkins graduates and the university as a whole.
Fritz Schroeder, executive director of alumni relations and annual programs, says the conference represents a major step toward strengthening the university's relationship with this "important" group.
"The European alumni are a significant population for us, both in terms of who they are and their sheer numbers," Schroeder says. "From an institutional perspective, Hopkins is becoming more deliberate and more organized in regard to reaching out to our international population of alumni and friends. This conference is clearly part of that direction."
The hand-selected group to attend the event represents nearly all the university's academic divisions and includes all current Bologna Center alumni club presidents. Established in 1955, the Bologna Center is a full-time graduate school that offers the only international relations program in Europe under the American system.
Conference participants from Hopkins include Schroeder; Robert Lindgren, vice president for development and alumni relations; Robert Spiller, director of regional and international development; Iredell Iglehart, president of the Alumni Council and an assistant professor of rheumatology at the School of Medicine; Robert Evans, director of the Bologna Center; Karen Riedel, director of alumni affairs at the Bologna Center; Barbara Wiesel, associate dean of development at SAIS; and Stephen McClain, vice provost and director of the university's European Office in Berlin.
The Brussels event will build on the efforts of the Berlin office, opened in January 2000, which seeks to enhance the university's presence in Europe by offering academic programs and outreach to alumni and friends, and by identifying potential funding sources.
The conference should "greatly enhance the activities of the European Office," says McClain, that office's director.
"It will help us to determine better in what ways our alumni and friends can be more effectively brought together within the framework of the Hopkins community, broadly speaking and within Europe," McClain says. "By bringing together a group of 30 to 40 alumni in Brussels, we will discuss ways in which we can build a more extensive alumni and friends structure for Europe. In this, we are greatly aided by the long-standing and excellent alumni chapters established by the Bologna Center of the Nitze School."
In addition to the Bologna Center, the university operates the Singleton Center for Italian Studies at the Villa Spelman in Florence, Italy; the Consortium for German Studies at the Free University in Berlin; and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, with programs in Germany and Washington, D.C.
The conference itself will be held at the Meridian Hotel in Brussels, a city chosen for its central location. Panel and group discussions will focus on the establishment of new alumni clubs, services offered by the Alumni Association and philanthropy at Hopkins.
Schroeder says the conference could likely become an annual event.
"I envision that every spring from here on in we might gather European alumni leaders together to talk about their activities and their continuing relationship with Johns Hopkins," Schroeder says.
If the conference is a success, Schroeder says the Office of Alumni Relations will strongly consider replicating the model in Asia, home of more than 2,000 alumni.