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PHCC to create alumni association

Restoring school ties with graduates would be the top goal of the group.

By RYAN DAVIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 9, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Pasco-Hernando Community College graduates: The school is looking for your mailing address and phone number.

And, eventually, your money.

"This is something that is past due," said David Barzelay, the executive director of PHCC's 25-year-old, $20-million foundation.

Barzelay, who became foundation director this year, will turn his attention this spring to creating an alumni association for the college. The 29-year-old school has nothing resembling the kind of group that is standard at most colleges and universities.

While the long-term aim of such groups is to raise funds, PHCC's first move will not be asking for money, Barzelay said.

"Obviously we need to have some sort of special event and invite people back," he said.

It's likely former students have received little correspondence since their graduation, Barzelay said. The college has a newsletter PHCC Perspective but it is mailed primarily to community leaders and donors, not alumni.

School officials envision inviting all alumni to a sporting event or possibly creating a newsletter that specifically targets alumni.

"It's an additional service to people who are graduates of the school," said Lynn Rothman-Venus, the former editor of the University of South Florida alumni magazine who became PHCC's director of marketing last year.

The workings of an association have yet to be worked out until the school can overcome its biggest obstacle, reaching alumni, Barzelay said. The school has addresses for alumni, but most are from the time the student graduated. Some of those addresses could be 27 years old now.

The college updated its database system six years ago and will find it easiest to contact the 3,000 or so graduates since then, but it also intends to try reaching the roughly 5,000 earlier graduates.

It may also contract with local Internet providers to let subscribers know the college is looking for graduates, Barzelay said.

"We're hoping people honestly have happy thoughts about their time at PHCC," he said.

Barzelay knows alumni associations.

On the way to garnering several graduate degrees, he and his wife have attended six schools. They donate to all of them, he said.

He expects that students who received certificates and associate in science degrees would be more likely to feel ties to PHCC than students who received a two-year degree and went on to attend another school.

"It would be the last degree they ever got," Barzelay said. "If they have any alumnus connection at all, it would be to PHCC."

He also said students who received scholarships would likely be more willing to give.

The school gives about 200 scholarships a year, Barzelay said.

Don't expect the PHCC Visa or Mastercard just yet, Barzelay said, but projects like an alumni-sponsored scholarship are possibilities.

He and Rothman-Venus are also selling the alumni association as a chance for alumni to network.

"The most important thing," Barzelay said, "is to not make it look like a money grubbing thing."

-- Ryan Davis covers higher education and social services in Pasco. He can be reached at 800-333-7505 ext. 3452 or by e-mail at rdavis@sptimes.com.

To join

Pasco-Hernando Community College graduates interested in joining an alumni association for the school should call (727) 816-3410 or fax their name and address to (727) 816-3450.

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