Albion’s Web Series of Alumni Events Proves Instant Hit

April 14, 2020

By Jake Weber

After just three weeks, the Albion College Web Series has established itself as a venue for alumni who want to get out and get together–at least virtually. Hosted by Hannah Matson (top left), an engagement officer in the Institutional Advancement office, the series has featured the work of College archivist Elizabeth Palmer, ’10 (second from left) discussing April Fools’ Day and Albion pranksters; JQ Williams, ’08 (center), owner of Northern Yoga Center in St. Paul, Minn.; Emily Dobbins Verbeke, ’03, co-owner of Albion’s downtown Foundry Bakehouse and Deli, who shared recipes; and physics professor Charles Moreau and brewmaster Ben Wade, ’99 (bottom right), owners of Albion Malleable Brewing Co.

Like practically every other in-person event right now, Albion Everywhere—the College’s alumni togetherness celebration held in dozens of locations on the same day—didn’t take place last month. But Institutional Advancement staff members Hannah Mattson and Erik Braun didn’t dwell on all the advance work that had seemingly gone for naught. Instead, “we came up with the same new idea at almost the same time,” says Mattson. “We put it together in just one week and it’s been great!”

“It” refers to the Albion Web Series, a virtual meetup for anyone with an Internet connection and an interest in a fellow Brit’s expertise. The first three events—yoga in St. Paul, Minn., Albion’s April Fools’ Day history and a visit to two downtown Albion eateries—attracted nearly 200 total participants, which Mattson sees as a vote of confidence.

Photo of Gerstacker International House, with the name changed to “Gerstacker International House of Pancakes,” shared by Palmer on April 1.

“Alumni love our regional events, especially Albion Everywhere, but sometimes, it’s challenging to do something that will appeal to a 1970s grad and a young alum,” Mattson says. “This was an opportunity for a topical event, at a time when people are looking for ways to engage. We’re all also learning the same new technology of how to communicate and be together.”

Participants have joined from Florida, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and from across Michigan. Zoom software allows everyone to see everyone else, which led to a few happy surprises.

“It was a surprise to see that my cousin Dean Smith, ’47, and his wife, Carol Beslock Smith, ’55, were in the chat,” said Rick Lange, ’70. “The series is fun and it’s a good way to get together.”

“I was honestly only expecting about 20 people, but we got more than 100 for my presentation on The Plebeian and pranks at Albion College,” says Elizabeth Palmer, ’10, the College’s Marilyn Crandell Schleg Archivist and Special Collections Librarian. “With the technology, we were able to include a few of the participants in the conversation, and they were able to share.”

“I think that Albion is staying in line with ‘what we do best’ by hosting this Web Series on Zoom,” Palmer added. “This fostered relationships among alums and between alums and the College. The entire Web Series shows how much Albion College cares about its alums. Not only is the College featuring us, but also providing community and entertainment for others!”

Visit the Albion College Web Series schedule and registration pages