In the US, a faculty club is 'the way to connect'
"In the United States, the faculty club is the hub of social life," says Kim Donaldson (staff member of University College Utrecht). "If a university does not have an actual faculty club, the campus itself with its many buildings such as a museum, sports complex, bar, and so on still provides opportunity for a similar experience and connection. That is 'the way to connect people'."
"Utrecht's Faculty Club is incredibly nice, but not very well known yet. This is different in the US: there, faculty clubs have a strong connection with their employees and alumni. At Colby College, where I myself studied, the faculty club does not have a specific location, but for alumni there are 'hubs' spread all over the country, giving you another piece of the university in your own area. This is a bit like the alumni networks organised here in Utrecht from the Alumni Office. Scattered across the US, those hubs organise all kinds of events, speakers, get-togethers. The big difference, I think, is that students, staff and alumni in the US feel more 'pride' for their own college; they like being a member of something unique, something that is only open to those people who are or were connected to that specific college and not to everyone else. This pride starts during college. Through the alumni bureau and the faculty club, students are also closely involved in college activities."
Utrecht's Faculty Club is incredibly nice, but not yet known to everyone. That is different in the US.
Engage students earlier in the Faculty Club
"Because of our campus and college community, we are already a kind of faculty club here at University College Utrecht. Perhaps there should be something similar on the Science Park too, because how do you involve all these people in the Faculty Club in the Utrecht University Hall? Or how do you ensure that something like 'pride' can emerge? Additional 'collaboration' between different facilities would also contribute to brand awareness. Because now you can be a member of Olympos, but that doesn't make you a member of Parnassos. Whereas if you were a member of an American-style faculty club, you are a member of everything at once. It helps if students know early on that the Faculty Club exists and that they can join it once they are alumni. Because the Faculty Club does not specifically target students, it also remains somewhat less known. I think that's a shame, because a big university like ours needs a Faculty Club."
It made me feel 'fancy'
"I've been to the Faculty Club a few times myself. It was fun, there was a great atmosphere, with the lovely restaurant and the beautiful garden! Walking around there, you get a specific, 'fancy' feeling. I like that. But I can imagine it can also discourage people, in the sense of 'do I belong to this fancy society?'. But still, I think it attracts a lot of people, also because such a club offers the opportunity to connect with other members from the university community. I am very much looking forward to our joint activity, a 'big celebration' open to all. With something for everyone, where you can connect and be 'happy'. I expect the twenty-fifth anniversary to boost the Fculty Club and University College. It is 'a way to get everybody in the spirit!"
About Kim Donaldson
As an American, Kim Donaldson has had experience with faculty clubs. She studied at Colby College in Maine, a Liberal Arts & Sciences college. Now she works as an alumni officer at University College Utrecht (UCU). She is currently organising a big event on the UCU campus together with the Faculty Club, as both institutions are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. So reason for a joint celebration.