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International prize for Alumni Circles concept

06 July 2012

For the second year running, the University of Groningen Alumni Relations & Fundraising Department/Ubbo Emmius Fund has won a prestigious international prize. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has given the Alumni Circles concept a Bronze Award. The prize will be presented in Birmingham at the end of August 2012, during the annual CASE European conference.

CASE is considered to be the world’s top organization for professionals involved in alumni policy, communication, marketing and fundraising in higher education.


A few years ago, several prominent University of Groningen alumni took the initiative by setting up an ‘alumni circle’ in Het Gooi, the area around the city of Hilversum. The alumni included a number of members of the Ubbo Emmius Fund Board, and their actions were supported by the Alumni Relations & Fundraising Department (A&F) of the University of Groningen. Circles of alumni from Groningen were also set up in Amsterdam, The Hague and Groningen. Tienke Koning, director of the Ubbo Emmius Fund: ‘Thanks to the alumni circles, the alumni that join come into contact with scientists carrying out exceptional and ambitious research, thereby making them even more proud of their alma mater.'

Adopting research

The principle of alumni circles is that the alumni involved invite former fellow-students to join the circle in a particular region. Circle members meet a few times a year, inviting interesting University of Groningen researchers to come and give a presentation and then jointly adopt a particular project or piece of research, for which they provide extra funding. Tienke Koning: ‘The alumni circles create a fantastic platform so that top scientists working in the focus areas of our university (Healthy Ageing, Energy and Sustainable Society) can find social support for their research activities.’

First four circles

The Gooi alumni circle has already realized its first target; €250,000 for research being conducted by Prof. Ellen Nollen (University of Groningen/UMCG) into the genetic basis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson, Alzheimer and Huntington. The Amsterdam circle has received pledges and current contracts of around €100,000 to support the research of Prof. Gerard Koppelman (University of Groningen/UMCG) into the development of asthma in young children. And the alumni circle in The Hague/Rotterdam is backing research by Prof. Maria Loi, who is exploring subjects including hybrid solar cells. Finally, the Aduard circle is generating support for Prof. Beatriz Noheda’s research into piezoelectric materials, which provide the way forward by converting compressive forces into electricity. All four circles are now growing steadily and new ones are being established.

Previous award

The concept of the circles has received the Bronze Award in the Principal, Major and Special Giving Programmes category. Last year, A&F/UEF won a Silver Award for the Album Amicorum, the graduation gift from the University of Groningen. As a result, the University became the first institute on the European continent to win an award from CASE.

Note for editors

More information: Alumni Relations & Fundraising: Yvonne Jordens-Streng,, tel. +31 (0)50-363 4684 or Josca Westerhof,, tel. +31 (0)50- 363 7564.

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.29 p.m.
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