By David Fejeran –
If there’s anything that can be said about Rocky Mountain College, it’s that it’s a community that is by no means restricted to a mere city block campus. RMC students continually work alongside and within the Billings community, using the skills they learn at school to improve the lives of others. Some do this after graduation, some do it while in school, some do it through volunteer work. Others do it through undergraduate study, doing field research in Yellowstone, Little Bighorn, or Billings Public Schools. Every Battlin’ Bear takes a little part of RMC with them wherever they go. That’s why RMC alumnus and new Director of Alumni Relations Daniel Parod does his job; he wants to reconnect with RMC alumni and follow the Rocky spirit wherever alumni take it.
RMC’s Alumni Relations Program is a multi-faceted system that establishes a two-way dynamic between alumni and the current students and faculty at RMC. RMC teaches young adults successful tools they use in the real world. Those students graduate and use those tools to become successful in their respective fields. RMC’s Alumni Relations Program reconnects with them to keep the Rocky community alive, and in doing so, alumni return the support in helping develop programs that continue to make RMC great. In a nutshell, Alumni Relations runs on a quid pro quo basis, as they reconnect alumni to the campus, the campus receives support from said alumni.
This two-way street begins with efforts to extend our reach beyond campus. One of the most successful programs the Alumni Relations program has done in the past and continues to do is the phonathon. The phonathon, run by Martha Thompson, is carried out by current RMC students of all majors, classes, and backgrounds. Reconnecting with alumni in this personal way not only forms direct connections between former and current students, but also helps the Alumni Relations program up to date with contact information. That information is further used to “build, rebuild, and extend future relationships,” as Parod puts it: “RMC has recently been much more successful with the phonathon which has led to an overall successful program” in reconnecting and fostering those relationships.
Those relationships are further fostered by the alumni board, which works on the other aspect of the two-way street by bringing alumni back to campus. Eventually, the Board hopes to work with existing clubs to hold more alumni events on campus during homecoming week. The Board also hopes to work with current RMC students and the Montana Historical Society to update records on alumni and RMC itself. As Parod puts it, “The importance of the alumni board cannot be overstated. The extent to which they can take place in tying the Rocky Family together is crucial. We’re looking, in the long term, to increase the number of alumni that come back to campus.” In a more short-term context, Parod has worked with the Board to hold a forum for Dr. Steve Dyche (Class of ‘62), who wrote a book on one of the first integrated high school basketball teams, the 1957 team from Hardin, Montana. He will be joined by Mr. Larry Pretty Weasel, Dr. Wilber Kukes, Mr. George Grover, and Mr. Frank Lane, all players on the 1957, for a panel discussion and book signing.
The possibilities are endless for what RMC’s Alumni Relations Program hopes to achieve within the coming years. The end goal, however, is simple: whenever our alumni benefit from the education they get at RMC, we want to know about it and celebrate it.