By Ray Briscuso, Auburn ’81
The Alabama Beta Chapter at Auburn University prides itself on well attended all-age alumni reunion weekends held each fall. But there is a new tool, one we would have never imagined a few years ago, and something else that encourages fellowship and brings brothers together in a new and quite efficient way – Zoom reunions!
Organized by the chapter advisory board (CAB), the new Zoom-style reunions focus on bringing together classmates whether freshman or seniors. Instead of a Zoom reunion for each graduating class or gathering only those from 10, 25 or 50 years ago, the Auburn Phi’ organize calls that welcome anyone in school from that year. The 1980 call was for anyone at Auburn in 1980 be you a graduate student, a freshman or anything in between.
Beginning this spring, the CAB replaced its every other week telephone conference call meetings with every-other week ZOOM meetings. The Alabama Beta CAB is a large and active group – it includes over two dozen members with a dozen regular participants. The CAB quickly saw the benefit of meeting face-to-face via Zoom video and decided to complement their annual on-campus fall reunion with a series of spring Zoom reunions. Recognizing the value of including no more than 25 persons on each Zoom call, the CAB decided to organize many rather than few Zoom reunions, and thus the five-year increments. The results have been extremely well received!
Each Zoom call has two alumni serving as captains (aka Zoom hosts). All the backend work including sending invitations and technical support is done by the CAB secretary. When possible, the captain/hosts are well remembered past chapter presidents or Phikeia educators, from different graduating classes to ensure each Zoom caller was likely on campus with at least one of their respective Zoom captains.
Recruiting calls were relatively easy and within two months of conceiving the idea Zoom reunions have been held for brothers that were at Auburn in 1970, 1975, 1980, 1985, 1990, 2000 and 2010. Future Zoom calls are planned for 1960, 1965, 2005 and 2015. We are also considering hosting a Zoom call for any brother who graduated before 1960!
The CAB uses the alumni database to obtain the names and emails for each Zoom. Invitees are also encouraged to share their invitation and spread the word. A second benefit is the cleaning and building of the chapter’s alumni database! Each Zoom is scheduled for 45-minutes (starting at 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. local time), but most go over because of the great connections.
The Zooms have been so successful that Alabama Beta plans to convene Zoom reunions each spring and even bigger annual in person reunions each fall.
Brother Briscuso (right) alongside Alabama Beta President Hunter Cunningham at the 2020 Presidents Leadership Conference