Building Better Value
Building Better Value
John Bergholz and Team Focus the Future on Alumni
Building Better Value
John Bergholz and Team Focus the Future on Alumni

Nothing speaks more about an institution then its alumni.

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 undergraduates.

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.

Future Plans

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 plan soon.

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