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Alumni? Alumnae? Alumnus? Alumna?

By Valerie Cushman December 8, 2016
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Photo by Skip Rowland ’83

Alumni? Alumnae?  Alumnus?  Alumna? 

For those not well versed in Latin, here is a little clarification. When referring to a singular male graduate, use alumnus, and when referring to a singular female graduate, the word alumna is correct. When referring to more than one male graduate, the correct term is alumni, and when referring to more than one woman graduate, use alumnae. And now that we have that cleared up, how do you pronounce the latter? The anglicized Latin version is pronounced “alum-knee.”

And, why does it matter? W&M has not always had alumnae. In fact, in 2018, we will commemorate 100 years of coeducation. In recognition of that milestone, W&M has launched an alumnae initiatives program aimed at providing regional opportunities for our women graduates. Several events have already taken place. Last spring, events were held in Roanoke, Va., Richmond, Va., Virginia Beach, Va., and Atlanta. 

This fall, a Breakfast and Business Cards Alumnae Forum was held in Washington, D.C., featuring Katie Meaghan ’92, senior counsel for the legal department at the International Finance Corporation, and Megan Dorward ’07, politcal salesperson for Twitter, who talked about best practices related to recruiting, retaining and promoting women in the workplace. Also in November, an alumnae forum was held in Richmond where alumnae enjoyed a cocktail hour and heard from Professor Amy Oakes, Duenya Hassan ’16 and Catie Crowley ’17 who presented on their fascinating and important research impacting women around the world. 

On Jan. 24, Atlanta alumnae will host a forum at the relatively new National Center for Civil and Human Rights featuring Jayne Barnard, an emeriti member of the faculty who is chairing the Commemoration of 100 Years of Coeducation Committee. Her talk will be titled “Feminism, Suffragists, Money Woes and the Spanish Flu: The Transformation of W&M in 1918.”

These alumnae forums provide an opportunity to focus on the needs and interests of our women graduates and have been well received. Following the Richmond event, Amanda Vtipilson ’09 noted, “The student presentations were very interesting and well presented. It was also inspiring to be in a room with so many successful women with whom I could easily and comfortably engage.”

Planning teams are forming in cities throughout the country. If you are interested in hosting or helping to create an alumnae event in your city, contact Valerie Cushman, director of alumnae initiatives at vjcushman@wm.edu or (757) 221-1622.