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A Year of Active & Generous Engagement


Office of Alumni RelationsOffice of Alumni Relations
December 31, 2020

As we reflect on 2020, we do not need to repeat what so many have already written about the changes and challenges facing our community. But, it is worth noting that the leaders of many of our community’s frontline and critical professions (education, nursing, public health, journalism, small business owners) are UNC alumni.

Many of these individuals are also active alumni leaders within the alumni association. They speak in our classes, serve on career panels, mentor and supervise students, generously support scholarship funds, and publicly share their UNC ties with pride. As an alumni relations office and in partnership with the UNC Alumni Board and staff across University Advancement, we have sought to intentionally engage alumni in student-support oriented activities throughout the year as well as adjust to meet alumni needs and challenges during social change and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So in the spirit of reflection and as a final #ThankYouThursday, we chose to recap the Twelve Months of 2020 through the lense of UNC alumni engagement and all that you - our alumni and friends - have been a part of at UNC this year.


January 6 - 2020 Legislative Preview provided State Senator John Cooke '79 and State House Representative Mary Young '00, both UNC alumni, the opportunity to preview the upcoming legislative session for the region's alumni and community members.

January 30 - Learn S'more about Madwire offered current students an opportunity to learn about careers with the growing marketing agency Madwire from UNC alumni currently working at the company. Hosted at the Bear Pit at UNC Courtyard, students and alumni  enjoyed smore's while networking around the campus fire pit.


February 5 - Alumni Careers in Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism offered students a chance to learn about careers after college from alumni in their chosen profession.

February 6 - In partnership with the Greeley Area Chamber of Commerce, the alumni office served as the host for the regional ENGAGE Young Professionals Networking group.

February 7 - Following the exciting announcement that Broncos veteran Ed McCaffrey would lead the UNC Football program as Head Coach, UNC football alumni and donors spent the evening meeting Coach McCaffrey and his staff during a snowy evening reception in Castle Pines, CO.

February 18 - Through a collaboration between the UNC Alumni Association, the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center, and the Center for Career Readiness, Black alumni professionals returned to campus for Black History Month to connect with students and share their professionals experiences after college. 

February 19 - UNC leaders, including several alumni, joined President Feinstein and Greeley City leadership for the first annual Greeley Day at the Capitol in support of the community's legislative advocacy efforts.

February 25 - In partnership with the DREAMer Engagement Program, UNC welcomed alumni back to campus to share their experiences in support of UNC's current students.


March 2-3 - Over the course of two days, more than 400 students networked with alumni from UNC's many fraternities and sororities. Hosted in partnership with the Center for Career Readiness, the event filled the UC Ballrooms in a speed networking style event.

March 9-10 - UNC's alumni scholarship selection committee met to award approximately $82,000 in annual scholarships to current students. 

March 5 - Many of UNC's current employees are also UNC alumni and donors and they deserve recognition for their service and philanthropy. UNC kicked off the annaul Appreciation Week by hosting the 49th Annual Staff Recognition Banquet in the UC Ballrooms. The banquet was the last, large in-person event hosted during 2020.

March 20 - UNC introduced new Men's Basketball Head Coach Steve Smiley during a virtual press conference where he, President Feinstein and Director of Athletics Darren Dunn took questions from media, alumni and fans in a safe and socially distance format.

March 27 - Despite the new restrictions on in-person events, the UNC Alumni Association recognized the 2020 Honored Alumni through tribute videos and social media shout outs.

March 28 - President Feinstein reached out to UNC alumni with an update on the university's pandemic response and operational status. He invited alumni who wished to support student pandemic-associated need to give to the Bear Pantry and Disaster Relief Fund.


April 1 - The alumni association celebrates UNC's birthday by recognizing the 1970 anniversary of UNC's name change from the Colorado State College to the University of Northern Colorado. Since 1970, more than 121,000 constituents have earned a UNC degree and become university alumni.

April 16 - The new virtual Bear Network event series kicks off with the NoCo Small Business Social, hosted by UNC alumnus Nick Kenny '17.

April 25 - The annual Women's Walk scholarship fundraiser went virtual with supporting alumni and donors joining from parks and sidewalks near their homes and throughout the community. Alumni Board chair Jill Trotter '87 went on a neighborhood hunt to find fellow UNC Bears out walking in support UNC's female student athletes.

April 29 - Alumnus and award winning reporter Ed Werder '82 returned to campus to interview Broncos legend and UNC Head Football Coach Ed McCaffrey for a Facebook premier Between two Bears, debuting on UNC's Facebook.

April 30 - UNC adopts the UNC Athletics mantra #BearsStrong to recognize and thank UNC's alumni, faculty, staff and friends for their contributions to caring for the community, during the early days of the pandemic's response.

April 30 - Alumni connected with marketing professor Denny McCorkle to gain insight on growing their professional brand through social media, a professonal development event hosted as part of the Bear Network Virtual Event series.


May 5 - The national Teacher Appreciation Day took on new importance in 2020 as UNC's alumni educators concluded their academic year teaching remotely or with great modification. The alumni association reached out to all of the past year's alumni educator volunteers, the alumni who sign up to share UNC in their respective classrooms or offices. The outreach was an opportunity to learn about the experiences of the educators and to express personal gratitude for their service. 

May 5 - #BearTuesdayNow launched as a day of unity and giving to support students facing financial challenges during the pandemic. Alumni and friends stepped up to support the UNC Diaster Relief Fund and the UNC Bear Pantry crowdfunding campaigns that began May 5 and ran through the summer. By the end of the summer, $42,725 was raised by 80 donors in support of the UNC Disaster Relief Fund and $19,458 was raised by 49 donors in support of the Bear Pantry Fund. Thank you!

May 9 - Depsite the need to cancel the in-person spring commencement celebrations, UNC's spring Class of 2020 graduates joined the UNC Alumni Association with the support of President Feinstein and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who each recorded and shared personal words of encouragement and congratulations.

May 14 - Alumna and human resources professional Ashley Valenzuela-Ruesgen '11 shared her expertise to help UNC students and alumni prepare for virtual interviews as part of the Bear Network Virtual Event series.

May 18 - Roundball donors joined Men's Basketball Head Coach Steve Smiley and KFKA's Brady Hull '17 for the first of a series of UNC Athletic virtual meet-ups for team donors.

May 28 - Alumna and career consultant Elizabeth Mahoney '05 helped UNC students and alumni prepare their resume and cover letter documents in another installment of the Bear Network Virtual Event series.


June 1 - In an effort to suport the Class of 2020 enter a challenging job market, UNC alumni relations staff kicked off a summer Bears Hire Bears outreach campaign to connect with approixmately 300 alumni working in the field of human resources and talent acquisition. Calls, emails and virtual meetings with HR professionals helped identify new employement opportunities, recruiting relationships and industry insight that the staff prepared and shared with the Class of 2020 and the UNC Center for Career Readiness.

June 9 - UNC announced a $400,000 state grant from the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI), to create the COSI Scholars Program. The grant opened a 1:1 matching gift opportunity to encourage alumni and friends to support the UNC Scholarship Fund.

June 10 - Alumni board member Quinston Daugherty '97, '00 knows that building a network takes time, but well worth the effort. He shared his top tips for building and leveraging the Bear Network as part of the Bear Network Virtual Event series.

June 15 - But for the pandemic, UNC's Volleyball team would have faced international compeition in Italy and Greece during the summer of 2020. Despite travel restrictions and cancellations Head Coach Lyndsey Oates still found opportunities to excite team alumni and donors during a virtual meet-up. The team hopes to reschedule the competitive trip, which is made possible thanks to the generous support of team donors who raised more than $122,000 to support team travel.

June 18 - With a lot of national attention and momentum, UNC Wrestling kept alumni and donors connected during a virtual meet up featuring Head Coach Troy Nickerson and former student athlete Pete Isais '93.

July 23 - UNC Women's Basketball Head Coach Jenny Huth welcomed team alumni and donors to a virtual meet-up to reconnect and learn more about the legacy project headed up by alumna and team standout Savannah Smith '19. 

June 25 - Alumni Board member and recent graduate Jasmine Jones '17 started connecting with alumni before graduation so she understands the value of a strong network, including the network you build on LinkedIn. She helped fellow Bears make the most of their LinkedIn profile during a Bear Network Virtual Event.


July 13 - Alumni and state elected officials Senator John Cooke '79 and Representative Mary Young '00 broke down a historic Colorado legislative session during the 2020 Legislative Wrap-up virtual event, which drew attendance from more than 70 alumni and community participants.

July 16 - Men's Basketball alumni filled the Zoom screen for a virtual happy hour to reconnect players from the many decades of Bears Basketball.


August 6 - In response to student need, faculty launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the UNC DACA Scholarship. In August, UNC announced that faculty, staff, alumni and friends raised $7,525 to support the fund, with an average gift of $80.

August 10 - UNC Athletics donors and team alumni raised more than $30,000 during the annual Blue & Gold Golf Tournament hosted at the Greeley Country Club. Although the tournament felt a bit different from past years due to public health protocols, great weather and sportsmanship provided guests an enjoyable UNC-filled day.

August 26 - UNC joined universities throughout the state in hosting a virtual alumni career fair with partner HireTalent.


September 9 - President Feinstein invited alumni, students, faculty and staff to tune into the virtual State of the University address. Traditionally hosted as a fall gathering for the campus community, the 2020 address was produced as a livestream virtual event.

September 24 - The alumni association continued to prioritize career connections and assistance in the fall virtual Alumni Career Panels, with the first event of the semester featuring human resource professionals sharing insight and tips for job searches and interviews.

September 25 - In recognition of the 35th Anniversary of the César Chávez Cultural Center, current and former center directors sponsored a 1:1 match for the first $1,500 raised during the anniversary crowdfunding campaign. In addition to crowdfunding opportunities, alumni were invited to reconnect with the center through various virtual events and social media.

September 28 - The profession of education continues to draw students to UNC and remains a top profession among UNC alumni. In support of UNC's alumni educators, the alumni association launched a new UNC Bears in Education Bear Network alumni group to serve as a connection, support and networking opportunity for alumni educators working in schools and districts around the world.


October 1 - Alumni marketing and business professionals hopped on to Zoom to share their post-college professional experiences and take questions from students during a virtual Alumni Career Panel.

October 2 - Alumni got an inside view of UNC's pandemic response when Colorado Governor Jared Polis held a livestreamed press conference in the UNC Campus Commons to discuss the state's pandemic response, which has uniquely impacted college campuses like UNC. The highlight for many alumni, as they shared on social media, was the UNC Bear mask worn by Governor Polis during the event.

October 5-10 - The alumni association hosted a week's worth of Homecoming From Home events to help alumni remain connected to UNC despite changes to the traditional fall football game and reunion schedule. A national meet-up connected Bears from across the country; alumni volunteered in their home town to promote community service; and an emphasis on supporting local helped build awareness for many of Greeley's local businesses.

October 6 - Alumni from college and professional level athletics and sports management shared their insight into a popular profession that offers graduates opportunities ranging from athletic training to sales and marketing.

October 15 - Many UNC alumni continue their education with graduate studies as a way to advance their careers. Graduate level alumni, including assistant director of admissions Bryson Kelly '15, '20, discussed the career opportunities that follow graduate education.

October 16 - The alumni association opened the nomination period for the 2021 Honored Alumni Awards. The annual award program draws nominations from across the country featuring many of UNC's notable, generous and involved alumni. The alumni association will announce the winners January 12, 2021.

October 22 - Alumni educators from as far away as Hawaii joined the Careers in Education virtual alumni career panel to share their professional experience in one of UNC's most popular post-college professions.


November 5 - Performing and Visual Arts alumni from Colorado to New York shared their career and professional insight during a virtual alumni career plan. 

November 7 - The annual Freedom 5K invited alumni and students to support UNC Veteran Services in a virtual race to raise support for student programs and scholarships. Participants used Strava to record their runs and time.

November 12 - Alumni nurses shared their professional experiences and discussed the nature of their work during the pandemic as part of the Careers in Nursing and Health alumni career panel.

November 13 - The Student and Foundation Fund course turned to Zoom to present their economic and investment report. The virtual format allowed students to present to and answer questions from SAFF alumni working as investment professionals in cities across the country. But for Zoom, these alumni would typically be unable to attend the presentation.

November 19 - A career in media and communication presents broad and diverse opportunities, as reflected by the alumni career panelists who shared insight into their work as radio, broadcast and public relations professionals.


December 1-8 - Giving Bearnanza rasied $81,385 in support of 14 student-focused projects and campus causes. 296 UNC donors stepped up to particpate including $25,000 in generous matching dollars from Bank of Colorado.

December 10 - Men's Basketball alumni and donors joined the quarterly Basketball and Banter virtual event with Coach Smiley and KFKA's Brady Hull '17. Coach Smiley broke down game play from the opening match against Colorado Christian University and shared how Roundball donor support provided an important Thanksgiving celebration for the team during quarantine. 

December 11-12 - UNC's Class of 2020 experienced a graduation celebration unlike anything in the university's history. More than 3000 graduates were recognized and acknowedged during the weekend's Virtual Commencement ceremonies, doctoral hooding and college virtual receptions. Graduates shared photos, perspectives and experiences using #UNCBearGrad.

December 14 - No one knows UNC like a UNC Student Ambassador, so who better to remain  connected to UNC as alumni. The alumni association launched the Former Student Ambassador Bear Network alumni group to connect tour guides from years past to one another and their alma mater.

December 17 - UNC announced that alumna Rhonda Stryker '76 generously donated $5 million in support of the Stryker Leadership Institute. The program will celebrate it's 20th anniversity in 2021, what a way to start the new year. Thank you Rhonda.

December 24-31 - There are never enough opportunities to say 'Thank You' but to the nearly 7,000 alumni and friends who supported UNC this year, THANK YOU. You contributed more than $15 million in philanthropic support during 2020 and enabled nearly $6 million to be directed toward student financial aid. You supported crowdfunding campaigns, responded to emergency needs, established new scholarship funds, and volunteered - all because you put UNC students first. Thank you.

As the university closes down for the winter break, please know that your generosity has and will continue to impact the success of UNC's students today and for years to come. We enter 2021 with many of the challenges we faced in 2020, but we remain ever confident in our future  because of you - our alumni and friends - ensure that UNC remains a community connected in support of student success. Thank you.

Stay Connected, Get Involved

Set a New Year's Resolution with us to continue building and strengthening the UNC Bear Network. With UNC alumni living and working in cities across the country - and around the world - let's work together to remain connected and involved in our alma mater.

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