Magazine On-line [spring 2009]
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Staff, faculty, and University go Facebooking

In addition to students who use Facebook in their social lives, some Transylvania staff and faculty members, along with the University itself, make use of the networking site for various administrative and academic purposes.

Transylvania recently launched an official Facebook page, a public profile that enables the University to share news about Transy with Facebook users worldwide. (Joining is instantaneous: Click here, then click on “Become a fan.”)

“When our ‘fans’ interact with our Facebook page, stories linking to our page go to their Facebook ‘friends’ as a News Feed,” said Sarah Emmons, director of public relations.

“As those friends interact with Transy’s page, News Feed keeps driving word-of-mouth to a wider circle of friends. There are thousands of Facebook users affiliated with Transylvania, so our new page is a very powerful communications platform to increase the awareness of the University.”

Emmons said the University plans to add applications, such as discussion groups and video, to make the page more interactive and dynamic.

Here are some examples of staff and faculty members making use of Facebook:

As assistant director of career development, Michael Cronk uses Facebook to keep students up-to-date on events like the Student-Alumni Networking Fair and the services his office makes available to them.

“When we have an event coming up, I will send an invitation to the students who are part of a Facebook group I set up for career development,” Cronk said. “I always encourage them to send the invitation on to their other Facebook friends.”

Cronk was motivated to set up the career development group after students who had friended him began asking questions about career issues through the Facebook site.

 Michael Cronk

Michael Cronk, assistant director of career development

“Students don’t view Facebook strictly as a just-for-fun site—it’s a way of life for them. It includes personal, social, and academic or institutional life. It’s really all encompassing.”

An offshoot of his work occurred when a student he was working with who had an interest in the music business contacted a Web magazine editor through the editor’s Facebook account.

“After the editor accepted this student’s friend request, the student wrote back, and now has an opportunity to interview for an internship in New York City, purely through using Facebook as a mechanism to make a connection,” Cronk said.

Diane Fout, director of student activities and campus center, finds Facebook a convenient communication tool for letting students know about events like Dance of the Decades, Campus Center Open Mic Night, and Transy Night Out at Gattitown.

“Facebook lets us do things like name the performers for Open Mic Night, post their photos, and tell what each performer will be doing,” Fout said.

Like other administrators, Fout doesn’t rely totally on Facebook for these purposes—she also uses the University’s on-line daily e-newsletter, Columns, and even physical bulletin boards sometimes—but believes it’s a worthwhile outlet.

“It’s one more way I can notify students of an event,” she said. “And I feel that students who are on Facebook are usually really into Facebook, so I have a good connection there.”

Karen Anderson, coordinator of community service and civic engagement, uses Facebook to help keep students informed and organized about the myriad of volunteer and civic activities available to them, including ones they are helping to plan.

“The schedule gets so busy sometimes in terms of what’s going on, and I find that Facebook is a good connection because students tend to use it more than their e-mail,” Anderson said.

Anderson recently put together a Facebook page for alumni and current students who have taken part in Jump Start and Alternative Spring Break.

“It gives alumni a place to reminisce about their experiences, and lets current students interact with them. We also plan on using it to discuss a possible celebration of our 5,000th hour of service to the National Park Service through Jump Start.”

In the classroom, art professor Kurt Gohde and English professor Kremena Todorova maintain a Facebook group for their course Community Engagement Through the Arts. The class focuses on creating a relationship between the Transylvania community and the North Limestone neighborhood.

“This class is not about working toward a grade,” Todorova said. “This is about community and dialogue.” Class meetings often include visits from community members, and those visitors, as well as anyone who is interested, can join the group and read the class minutes, which are posted each week.

Class participants also post their “This I Believe” essays to the group. “We’d love to see other members of the group, our friends, post essays as well,” Todorova said.

 Natasa Pajic

Natasa Pajic ’96, director of alumni programs

“Because of Facebook, we can do things like wish our alums happy birthday. We never would have had time for that before.”

Director of alumni programs Natasa Pajic ’96 and assistant director Tracy Dunn ’90 administer a Facebook group for the Transylvania Alumni Association. The site uses a Facebook protocol that ensures only alumni of the University are members of the group. (Some Facebook groups are open to virtually anyone.)

Pajic was already a Facebook user when she established the alumni group in November 2008; it now has over 600 members. The immediacy of posting to the site has enhanced the communication that was already in place in the alumni office. “It has added another dimension,” Pajic said. “We can get the word out about events instantaneously.”

Produced by Office of Publications three times a year