Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Moez Limayem, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Steve Oscher, DBA

Committee Member

Joann Quinn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sunil Mithas, Ph.D.


Affinity Marketing, Alumni Relations, Higher Education, Relationship Marketing, Social Identity, Philanthropic Mirroring


A student’s college experience lasts only a finite amount of time, but their role as alumni lasts for a lifetime. Alumni play an important role in higher education. The future financial success of a college or university is largely based on involvement and financial support by the school’s alumni. The purpose of this research was to learn about the role alumni affinity groups play in engaging alumni with the school and if they have the ability to impact alumni giving.

The dissertation data was collected using a qualitative methods research approach. Alumni data was gathered from two public universities from a series of interviews. The construct for the research sought to learn if the four controls had any influence on alumni engagement. The four controls were: college experience, alumni satisfaction, relationship building, and communications. The interviews for the qualitative method were built around the same controls for comparison.

Alumni affinity was found to be important as it relates to the social identity of the alumnus with their alma mater. The data showed the primary affinity relationship with both schools was Greek life. One of the school’s has a unique homecoming tradition that also has created a strong affinity with several of the alumni who were interviewed. It was also evident from the data that the relationship with other alumni plays an important influence on alumni engagement. Alumni and not administrators are important motivators to engage alumni in volunteer roles on campus and even alumni giving. The data also revealed alumni engagement activities can have a positive impact on future alumni giving since there is a clearer understanding of the need and impact of the gift. The application of the social identity theory and philanthropic mirroring theory can be used as a basis for alumni affinity programs to engage alumni across multiple generations.

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