Bringing Loyola to you

The new director of alumni engagement wants to engage graduates with their alma mater

As a student at Loyola, Colleen Riopko, ’02, majored in political science with a minor in communication. She was on the cross-country team, where she met her husband, Eric, ’02, MBA ’13. When they married, they did so in Alumni Memorial Chapel. Now the parents of two children, ages 7 and 4, the family can often be found cheering for the Greyhounds at sporting events.

A devout Loyola supporter, she jumped at the chance to apply for the position of director of alumni engagement.

“It’s cool as an alum to see your kids on campus because Loyola has meant so much to us personally,” Riopko said, “But it’s also amazing to be here as an alum working on campus, to walk into the student center as an employee 17 years after I graduated. I’m excited to come to work every day.”

Riopko in front of her home.

Riopko became the new director of alumni engagement in January, leading a team of six, including three who are alumni. Previously, Riopko was director of media and communications at the Baltimore marketing firm idfive, and she has extensive experience working with higher education clients. She brings to her position not only a passion for Loyola and a love of its traditions and history, but also a deep understanding of digital marketing and communications.

The digital sphere is changing the landscape of alumni relations, she explained.

“It used to be the role of the university alumni association to connect so and so, to reconnect friends. Now those connections can be made on social media independent of us,” she said.

Instead, today’s alumni associations work to engage alumni, digitally and in other ways, with the exciting happenings on campuses.

“We have so many different affinity groups here at Loyola—with more than 180 student organizations on campus, our alumni populations have quite a variety of interests. We represent people of different ages, in different cities—and we want to bring Loyola to our alumni in a way that matters to them,” Riopko said.

Riopko and her team are working on a strategic plan to roll out in early 2020. They’re looking at what has worked in the past as well as using primary and secondary research to pinpoint alumni interests. They also will build on current, successful partnerships, such as the relatively new Alumni Ambassadors program, which asks alumni across the country to represent Loyola to prospective students and their families.

Riopko stands outside her home.

In addition, Riopko and her team are promoting the new Legacy Award, a scholarship available to children and stepchildren of Loyola alumni.

Riopko’s message to Loyola alumni is to stay tuned. There are various upcoming ways that alumni will be able to participate and get involved in Baltimore and beyond, online and in person.

“There’s a lot of energy and passion for really developing the Alumni Association and making everyone aware of all the great things we offer,” Riopko said.

Contact Colleen Riopko at cmriopko@loyola.edu. Learn more at loyola.edu/alummi.

Photos by Brian Hatcher, MBA ’13.