A novel online program is allowing Binghamton University alumni to unite around their love for reading.
The BU Alumni Association recently created a book club to bring BU alumni together, regardless of where they live. Kimberly Faber, executive director of alumni engagement, worked to create the club to bring alumni of all ages together. With everyone stuck in quarantine, Faber said the coronavirus pandemic pushed the BU Alumni Association to launch the book club much sooner than originally planned in hopes of giving alumni a way to connect with others all over the world.
“We weren’t planning on launching it until later this year, but my alumni board members came back to me and wanted it launched sooner,” she said.
The club is free to join, with the only potential cost being the books themselves. All members of the BU community are welcome to join, and the club is held completely online and works like a forum, allowing members to participate whenever they are available. Faber said the club’s online format makes it easily accessible.
“Virtual programming and the book club in particular was something we thought all of our members, no matter where they live, could participate in,” she said.
The first book the club will discuss is “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. The club will spend approximately two months reading and discussing the book before moving on. Faber said she felt it was important to choose a book that would be beneficial to all members, regardless of their age or career.
“The reason we chose [‘The Power of Habit’] was because we have alumni members who are 22 years old all the way up to people in their 70s, so this is a book that can work for everybody,” Faber said.
Faber said the BU Alumni Association is hoping to draw in membership from people of all ages, allowing a variety of opinions to be discussed. Faber said she hopes the club will help people embrace a love for learning, no matter what stage of life they may be in.
“Now that it’s beginning, [the facilitator is] asking questions like ‘What type of books are you interested in?’ or ‘What are your areas of interest?’ in order to get an understanding of the members and what books to choose going forward,” she said.
Membership to the book club is already strong — more than 500 people have signed up since the initial launch. More importantly, Faber said the club is attracting alumni who haven’t connected with BU since they were students.
“The vendor anticipates that up to 60 percent of those who sign up have never been engaged with [BU post-graduation], so this is really exciting for us,” Faber said. “This is exactly what we are trying to do to reach our members.”