The UNBSJ alumni group, The Bridge Network, was recently awarded the Macaulay-O’Sullivan Administrative Service and Innovation Award.
The Macaulay-O’Sullivan Administrative Service and Innovation Award is named in honor of two of UNB vice presidents: Beverley F. Macaulay and James. F. O’Sullivan. It is presented to faculty at UNBSJ whose activities have had a positive impact on the university’s mission.
Mary Duffley, the UNBSJ alumni program manager, says the award helped to bring attention to the Bridge Network. “For us, it was an opportunity to be recognized for the work that we’ve done,” she says, “It’s difficult to communicate with students, the award helped to at least create a bit of visibility.”
The Bridge Network is a pilot project at UNBSJ that is supported by the associated alumni office and the vice president’s office. Larry Hachey, the former president of the board of the alumni association and the program’s creator, felt that alumni could give back to students.
The program is designed to connect students and alumni through advising, classroom presentations, networking as well as other events and services. The Bridge Network is tied to the Saint John Board of Trade, Enterprise Saint John and the non-profit sector in the city. “We’re trying to build those relationships for students,” says Duffley, “it’s all about making connections.”
Duffley encourages students to use the services offered by The Bridge Network and to make suggestions, “We don’t want to drive something down student’s throats,” she says, “We’re very open if students have suggestions about things they would like to see.”
Students can also access a database of alumni advisors created by the alumni office. This database allows the 8,000 UNB graduates in Saint John the opportunity to stay connected to the university while offering students the ability to network and form connections in their fields of study. Students can currently access this information by filling out a form and submitting it to the alumni’s office. Soon students will be able to access it online through the UNB website. “Some students don’t have those kinds of connections in their daily life, so we’re here to offer [them],” says Duffley.
Currently, The Bridge Network’s main focus is to get the database of Alumni volunteers available to students online. “The biggest thing is trying to get students to understand that they can get access to that information and encouraging students to use it,” says Duffley.
The organization also has a number of other events in the works, including a “speed networking” event took place on Nov. 22 in the Grand Hall on Charlotte Street. Alumni were there to share their advice and experience with students.
Duffley says they also plan to hold workshops and other events in the winter term.