Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Saturday, November 5, 2011

Alumni, friends build social capital

La Follette School photo by Andy Manis taken August 2010
From the Director
Tom DeLeire

By the time you read this, I likely will have met some of you at the reception the La Follette School will be holding in Washington, D.C., on November 4. Every other year the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management holds its research conference in Washington, and many of our faculty attend to present research, chair sessions and catch up with colleagues from other campuses and institutes.

We take advantage of that gathering to reconnect with alumni and friends who live and work in the Washington area, as well as those who attend the conference. We look forward to catching up with everyone, hearing about your careers, and learning how you might be applying the techniques and training you received at La Follette to improve the practice of public policy in your jobs.

Gatherings like these are a mutually beneficial investment of time that builds social capital for all of us. Alumni can re-establish friendships and make professional connections with each other. They can seek advice from faculty and from their former advisors. School staff members and faculty can learn about trends in the field and in hiring so they can better advise students about their degree programs. The benefits of these investments include an increased sense of collaboration among all of us as we all strive to improve the design, implementation and evaluation of public policy and the practice of governance worldwide.

The next reception for alumni and friends is in Madison on February 2 at Inn on the Park. Last year's gathering drew more than 100 alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff. Our second summer picnic at the school drew more than 70, including children and other family members. We are in the early stages of putting together an event in Chicago that, we hope, will combine a social gathering with alumni and a career development opportunity for students.

The school is able to invest in these relationships partly because of donations alumni and friends make to the school through the University of Wisconsin Foundation. Donations also can be an investment in current and future La Follette School students. Reduced funding from the state increases our reliance on such gifts. This year we were able to fund three students, one of whom is featured on page 5 of this issue of La Follette Notes.

We are pleased to report that your investment in our students continues to pay off.   By the end of September, 38 of our 39 May graduates had reported back to our Career   Development Office that they were employed in their field, with two of them pursuing further study. We are proud of our recent graduates as they navigate an uncertain economic field, and we appreciate our alumni and friends who have helped them with mentoring, sharing job tips and offering internships.

For those of you unable to attend our receptions and other events, please keep in touch via Facebook and LinkedIn. You can subscribe to our news feed directly, and we hope you will share with us news about your own careers, families and achievements.

This article appears in the fall 2011 La Follette Notes newsletter for alumni and friends.