Fuqua Promotes Lifelong Learning

Nearly 10 years after Jeff Popper MBA '93 graduated from Fuqua, he was living in Boston, working for a small company. Because of his employer's small size, the company didn't recruit at Jeff's alma mater. Feeling disconnected from Team Fuqua, he was excited to attend a "meet and greet" with then-dean, Douglas Breeden.

At the gathering, Breeden talked about lifelong learning. He reminded alumni that their learning should not end at graduation. As a marketer who graduated before the wave of internet marketing, this point resonated with Popper.

"The idea of continuously refreshing my education, and Duke being a partner in that process, was very appealing," Popper said. "Fuqua looks to alumni for support financially and to hire new graduates, so it was great to hear Fuqua felt a responsibility to support us as part of this lifelong relationship."

After becoming Vice President of Global Marketing at Hasbro, Popper was in a position to recruit from and further reconnect with Fuqua. He expressed interest in joining Fuqua's Alumni Council, a 50-member advisory group whose mission is to promote and foster a lifelong bond between the school and its alumni. Popper applied to join the Council in June 2009 and was invited to do so.

At an onboarding session before their first council meeting, the new members wrote down goals for their terms on the Alumni Council. Popper focused on lifelong learning opportunities for Fuqua alumni. Two other new members expressed interest in promoting lifelong learning, and the three created a task force to explore new ideas for engaging alumni beyond graduation. 

Popper and the task force wanted to start with practical goals requiring minimal investments in time, personnel and money. Leveraging Fuqua's award-winning faculty and the school's expertise in online program delivery, the team helped develop Fuqua Faculty Conversations.

"We wanted to find a way to keep alumni up to date on topical issues," Popper said. "It also gave the faculty a way to share their research more broadly. We wanted the alumni to see there was value in their post-graduation connection to the school."

Popper, who is entering his final year on the council, hopes that lifelong learning opportunities like Fuqua Faculty Conversations will deepen alumni engagement with the school and lead alumni to get involved as volunteers and donors.

Popper's time on the Alumni Council has been a great opportunity to meet alumni from other classes and maintain a connection to the school.

"Ultimately though, I'm really glad to see that the work we put in brought Fuqua Faculty Conversations to existence," Popper said. "We have something tangible to show for our effort toward lifelong learning, and that is gratifying and rewarding."