LAS VEGAS SPARTANS MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR COMMUNITY
Our alumni clubs have the ability to make a large impact on the communities they serve, and represent the values of Michigan State University across the nation. In order to do so, board members work very hard to ensure that they have a strong understanding of the MSU Alumni Association (MSUAA) goals and values. One club that has shown significant alignment in community engagement and activity over the last year is the Las Vegas Spartans alumni club.
In May of 2016, club president Leah Ruddy (Broad College of Business, and Arts and Letters ’06), attended the Alumni Club Leaders Summit hosted by the MSU Alumni Association. As a result, she was able to affirm her understanding of MSUAA objectives and methods of outreach, bringing that knowledge back to her community in Las Vegas. She noted:
The Alumni Club Summit was a great forum to show me how many different ways a club can be managed. I was able to take away many tools and suggestions that I thought could be used in our unique market of Las Vegas. One of the most important ideas I’ve come to embrace is to stop solely focusing on the numbers. Just because an event only had ten Spartans at it doesn’t mean it was unsuccessful. Instead, I assess events based on their quality or, to say it another way, did it contribute to our club goals? Did we engage with Spartans who are new to club activities or who haven’t connected with the club or university in a long time? Did we make an impact in our community or ignite interest in a new area of interest for our club members? Were we able to connect with those Spartans attending and reflect the club’s initiatives?
The Summit really solidified the club’s partnership with the MSUAA and lent itself to a strategy for the Spartan community. Under Ruddy’s leadership and the support of the rest of the board members, the Las Vegas Spartans have significantly increased their level of engagement with in the Las Vegas community and helps the university increase its relationships within the region.
The club works hard to be inclusive and engage new members and engage a variety of Spartans. They cater their activities to all ages, ensuring that members and their families have a wide range of opportunities to participate. Most recently, the club has planned and executed several events that have had a positive impact in the Las Vegas community.
The week of the Ohio State vs Michigan State football game in November 2017, the two B1G universities’ alumni clubs engaged in a friendly competition between Spartan and Buckeye alumni in the form of a blood drive through United Blood Services. The goal was to see which club could donate the most blood to replenish the city’s supply.
In the wake of the tragic shooting on October 1, 2017, the Las Vegas Spartans came together to raise nearly $1000 to support individuals affected by the tragedy. Spartan hospitality was evident as some members even opened their homes to any individuals who may have needed a place to stay while waiting on news regarding a loved one. Several newspapers and other media outlets have since contacted the Las Vegas Spartans for comment on the heartbreaking events that occurred, showing how the club itself is a great representative of both the Las Vegas and Spartan communities.
Las Vegas City Manager, Scott Adams (Social Science ’77), a Michigan State alumnus himself, spoke to the green and white community on December 4, 2017 to discuss his experience working in public service and what it’s like to be a community leader in a unique city like Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Spartans have organized activities to be more inclusive of families, those who care to engage beyond Global Day of Service, those who rally around athletics, and those looking for professional development. Projects include family days at a local apple orchard to euchre tournaments. Newly added this summer are “family dinners”, where alumni go out to eat together in a setting other than a game watch. The board provides many opportunities for the club to bond with their fellow Spartan family and thus strengthen the group as a whole.
At the same time, the Las Vegas Spartans have amplified their fundraising efforts in order to financially assist future Spartans from the community. For #GiveGreenDay on November 28, 2017, they worked towards a goal of tripling their endowed scholarship value by the end of 2018. By fully utilizing the strengths of its leadership team and partnering with the MSUAA, the club has been able to further engage local Spartans and thus make a significant impact on the surrounding community.
What the Las Vegas Spartans have shown is that any club, regardless of alumni population or proximity to East Lansing, can be a strong example of Spartan values within their communities, provided that the right volunteers are organized and have alignment with the MSUAA. Ruddy notes:
Some clubs in larger markets have the benefit of having large numbers at most events they host. But I challenge them to try more than just game watches, the annual scholarship fundraiser and the summer student send-off. Diversify your event offerings by utilizing club or community connections, changing the day of the week or time of the day of events, and when in doubt say, ‘let’s try it.’ There is no harm in completing an event and saying, ‘that was okay, but let’s not do it again.’
And here’s a suggestion for those board members or members-at-large that ask a peer about how an event went – instead of asking them ‘how many Spartans attended’, try ‘how was it enjoyed by those who attended?’ Or, ‘did you meet any new Spartans or engage more directly with an attendee?’ Those answers will tell you a lot more about the event than a number.
By working to communicate with the MSU Alumni Association and ensure that they have a full understanding of its goals and objectives, the Las Vegas Spartans have proven to be an excellent example of the power Spartan alumni possess. Spartans Will make a difference in their communities.
To get involved with your local alumni club, go to alumni.msu.edu/get-together/alumni-clubs/club-locator.cfm
Contact information for the Las Vegas Spartans:
Leah Ruddy (Broad College of Business, and Arts and Letters ’06), firstname.lastname@example.org