Nothing speaks more about an institution then
And John Bergholz, Executive Director of
John Marshall’s Office of Alumni Relations &
Development, understands just how important the role of
alumni are to the future of the law school. So, after less
than a year into his position at John Marshall, Bergholz has
focused on building a team to help the school build stronger
relationships with its estimated 18,000 alumni and to continue
to support the school’s historic mission of opportunity and
access. “This is their school. They have a role to play in its
present and its future. We want and need their help to do
that,” Bergholz says.
The relationship building begins with engagement. “I want to
give alumni a meaningful way to get involved,” says Bergholz.
Alumni involvement is not all about gift-giving, and a key part
of the department’s plans to engage alumni reflects its goal of
building a strong, interconnected John Marshall community.
Notably, out-of-town alumni have expressed a strong affinity
for John Marshall and a continued interest in supporting the
school. The Office of Alumni Relations & Development is
building more ways for alumni to affiliate with the school and
with each other. The department is reviving alumni chapters
in cities outside of Chicago including Milwaukee, Los Angeles
and Detroit with more to come.
This fall the Office of Alumni Relations organized an alumni
gathering in Detroit at the offices of the law firm Dickinson
Wright. The event was an unqualified success, Bergholz says,
and will lead to more.
Alumni also will have additional opportunities to network
beyond their geographical boundaries, including by class
year, programs, and student honors programs such as The
John Marshall Law Review.
Bergholz and his staff also are exploring how alumni
can engage with their undergraduate institutions as
representatives of John Marshall. Bergholz and his team
have learned that certain colleges and universities have high
concentrations of graduates who attend John Marshall and
are in the process of setting up alumni programming at these
undergraduate institutions to promote the law school to the
Back to School
The Alumni Relations and Development Office also is creating
more opportunities for alumni to come back to campus.
Those plans include a greatly expanded Community Legal Clinic Open House where alumni and others can come to
the law school, learn about the work of the law school’s nine
community legal clinics and how to support their work.
Bergholz and his department also plan to host receptions to
fete alumni and donors. Alumni will have the opportunity to
come back to school to fete outgoing Dean John Corkery, who
is retiring this year, and to meet the new dean when selected.
And expect to see more off-campus alumni events to bring
alumni together such as the annual Race Judicata 5K. This
year, John Marshall fielded a team of over 50 students, faculty
and alumni and held an after-race party.
Bergholz also wants to engage alumni to help with recruiting
and admissions by, for example, having them call admitted
students to welcome them to John Marshall and answer any
questions they may have.
A new emphasis on peer-driven class reunions is debuting
as well. The office has engaged alumni to connect with their
classmates and encourage them to help plan the reunions,
invite classmates and, of course, attend them. According to
Bergholz, the strategy is working. Since his department began
the peer-driven reunions two years ago, hundreds of alumni
have attended their class reunions.
Alumni also are stepping in to host and sponsor reunions,
including G. Grant Dixon of Lagrange, Illinois. Dixon (’91)
recently sponsored his class reunion because of the value he
places on the network of talented lawyers he met and built
relationships with during law school. “It’s important to maintain
these connections because we serve as a great network of
support and counsel to one another in our day-to-day work as
attorneys,” he says.
The Alumni Relations department also has rolled out a new
program aimed at more recent graduates. Dubbed “GOLD” for
“graduates of the last decadez’, the program aims to engage
students before the graduate. Third-year students will be
encouraged to plan their first reunion before they graduate, and
the Office of Alumni Relations & Development plans to engage
with law students as early as their first-year orientation.
Bergholz has already created a multi-year, strategic plan
that both the Board of Trustees and the Alumni Association
Board have approved. Alumni will be hearing more about the
The Office of Alumni Relations & Development also encourages
alumni to suggest other engagement opportunities. Bergholz
and his team have an open-door policy and are always willing
to meet with alumni to discuss how to better connect.
And Bergholz hopes alumni will continue to support the
school’s deserving students through scholarships and other
gifts. These students may not have had the opportunity
to attend law school but for the access John Marshall has
provided and will continue to provide.
“Get involved,” Bergholz says. Whether it is through the gift
of time or the gift of money. “You have the ability to change
someone’s life through your generosity.”
Have an idea for John Bergholz or any member of the Office of Alumni Relations & Development? Call 312.427.2737 ext.
373 or visit http://alumni.jmls.edu/contact.php.