Phone calls and free pizza: a window into the UMKC Alumni Association

In the Alumni Association’s call center, students solicit donations from UMKC’s numerous alums. (UMKC Alumni Association)

Anna Ryan

The UMKC Alumni Association is wholly dedicated to providing graduates a connection to campus with the objective of raising money for scholarships, academic funds and the university. 

Chris Longly, president of the UMKC Alumni Association Governing Board, offered an insight into the purpose of the organization. 

“We are key advocates in the broader community for all things UMKC,” Longly said. “We assist with critical recruitment initiatives and raise needed scholarship and other programmatic dollars for both students and faculty.” 

Longly graduated from the Bloch School of Management in 2013 with his Masters in Business Administration and is currently serving the second year of his two-year term as Alumni Association president. 

Unlike some other colleges, all graduates of UMKC are automatically inducted into the Alumni Association free of charge. This membership grants individuals numerous benefits, including access to advising through UMKC Career Services, health insurance through the UMKC Alumni Insurance Program and even a collegiate Visa Signature Rewards Card

Melissa Wharton, a 2018 communication studies graduate from UMKC, has some familiarity with these services.  

“I haven’t interacted with UMKC very much since graduating,” Wharton said. “Though when I was job hunting I did utilize the Career Center’s services.” 

Other benefits offered through the Alumni Association include discounts in areas such as home and auto insurance, KC Repertory Theatre shows, and UMKC bookstore purchases

“The only thing I’ve wished for in the past is the ability to use the university library’s database access,” Wharton said. “But I’ve since learned that I can access most of those through my KC library card,” Wharton said.   

Annual events are also conducted to offer graduates casual gatherings in which they can reconnect with each other and the campus community.  

“Our academic unit alumni associations work to connect with graduates throughout the year through critical programming, special alumni events and reunions,” Longly said. 

These events include multicultural activities, pizza nights, orientations and the all important Alumni Awards recognition event.  

“Each year the Awards event recognizes outstanding alumni from across all academic disciplines and raises critical immediate dollars in support of students,” Longly said. 

A central role of the Alumni Association is sponsoring scholarships to support UMKC students in need. The funds for sponsorship can come from events, such as the Alumni Awards, as well as through the association’s call center. 

The call center employs current UMKC students to take to the phones and contact alumni in the hopes of garnering some financial donations to the university. 

According to the Alumni Association’s website, these student workers make an average of 1,440 collective phone calls per night and end up speaking with roughly 144 alumni per shift. With nearly 140,000 alumni to reach, there’s plenty of opportunity to scour the pool for financial donors. 

For older alumni, these phone calls can be welcome opportunities to give back to the university that helped get them to where they are today. For fresher graduates still paying off loans and seeking full-time jobs, these donations may not be as financially feasible.  

“I’m thankful for my time at UMKC, and I’m glad there are people who are able to make donations,” Wharton said. “But as John Mulaney put it, ‘If you’re an adult still giving money to your college, college is a $120,000 hooker and you are an idiot who fell in love with her.’”

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